Friday, December 22, 2017


The ability to manage and bounce back from all kinds of challenges that come up in every family’s life is called resilience. It means finding ways to solve problems, building and maintaining trusting relationships, especially with our kiddos, and knowing how to seek help when necessary.

Through building resilience, parents and other family members will be better prepared to manage the inevitable challenges in life. Resilience not only benefits family members, it also leads to better parenting and healthier child development.  With a positive mindset, you can become more resilient!

The following are just a few of the techniques you can focus on in order to foster your own resilience....
  1. Build Positive Beliefs in Your Abilities
  2. Develop a Strong Social Network 
  3. Embrace Change
  4. Be Optimistic
  5. Nurture Yourself
  6. Develop Your Problem-Solving Skills
  7. Establish Goals

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Importance of Fine Motor Skills

The cup has spilled again.  There is cereal on the floor.  Your shirt is on backward.  All parents can relate to these words and the frustrations of raising young children.  But, try to relax in knowing that by making these mistakes, your child is practicing and strengthening their fine motor skills.  

Many of our children's daily activities, like eating breakfast, coloring, and getting dressed, require strength and control of small muscles in the hands.  As adults, we take these skills for granted, but they are an extremely important part of growth and learning for young children.  There are several activities that can help young children increase muscle strength and coordination, which will prepare them for more advanced skills, such as writing with a pencil or playing an instrument.  The following examples all help your child build fine motor skills right at home:

  • setting the table
  • loading the dishwasher/washing dishes in the sink
  • folding laundry (washcloths/towels)
  • helping with simple recipes
  • buttoning pants/coat
  • playing with playdough and clay
  • drawing, coloring
  • playing with puzzles/pegboards
  • playing with puppets
  • cutting with child-safe scissors
  • helping wrap presents
  • turning pages in a book

Painting is a wonderful way for children of all ages to practice their fine motor skills.  For the youngest children, try making an edible finger paint by mixing flour, water, and food coloring.   Tape a large sheet of paper on your table and watch your child create a masterpiece!  Make sure they have on clothing that can be easily washed.  For the preschool-aged child, try cotton ball painting.  Create your own paint by mixing water and food coloring in small, disposable cups.  Give your child several cotton balls and allow them to dip the cotton balls into the paint and rub onto the paper.  Have fun!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Non-Traditional Hours Child Care

This year at the Great Start Collaborative of Jackson County, we have been examining what child care needs exist in our community for manufacturing employees working non-traditional hours.  Lead by our Family Support group we created a survey, which Industrial Steel, Manpower, and US Staffing gave to their employees.

Out of the 12 questions asked on the survey, there are two with feedback that stood out.  56% of respondents answered no or unsure when asked, “Do you feel there are child care options available during your current work schedule?” and when questioned what time of day families required child care, 51% responded 2nd shift, 3rd shift, or weekends.  Out of several anonymous comments provided one parent wrote, “I have no idea what I would do if my work hours fell outside of these “normal” hours.  Every parent should have access to SAFE and affordable child care for their children, regardless of their work hours.  Leaving your precious and helpless baby in a questionable environment is every parent’s worst fear.”  These concerns are relevant and impact many families in Jackson County.

We are excited to share that the Great Start Collaborative recently received a $10,000 grant from United Way to work on non-traditional child care options in Jackson County.  We are currently involved in discussions with ABC Academy about the possibility of opening doors to a 2nd shift timeframe, beginning at one Jackson location. Our hope is to fill this location quickly and to expand to additional sites throughout the County.  This week, we will be reaching out to local manufacturing companies to discuss plans in more detail.  Please stay tuned for further updates.

If you are interested in voicing your opinion regarding the availability of child care in our community or have other thoughts or concerns, please consider joining one of our Family Support Committee meetings.  You can find meeting locations, times, and other information on our Great Start Calendar.  We welcome you!

Strengthening Families with 5 Protective Factors

Every family faces rough patches, difficult situations and downright scary times at one point or another.  It is the reality and it happens to us all.  The circumstances may be different but the struggle is real for all of us.

Research shows that the presence of these 5 Protective Factors build family strengths and an environment that promotes optimal child development:

No one can eliminate stress from parenting, but a parent’s ability to manage and bounce back from challenges can affect how they and their family deals with stress. Resilience is finding ways to solve problems, making and keeping trusting relationships including relationships with our own child, and knowing how and where to seek help when you need it.

Our neighbors, family members and friends are people we can go to for emotional support, help solving problems, and parenting advice when we need it. Networks of support are important to parents and also give us the chance to “give back” which builds self- esteem and benefits our community.

Meeting basic needs like food, shelter, clothing and health care is necessary for families to thrive. Sometimes families fall into crisis such as loss, domestic violence, mental illness or substance abuse. Services and supports must be in place for stability, treatment and any other help families need to get through the crisis.

We all want to do what's best for our kids but they did not come with manuals.  Correct and timely information about parenting, child development and age appropriate behaviors for children at every age helps parents see their children in a positive light and supports their healthy development.  Some parents grew up with difficult or negative experiences and may need help to change parenting patterns and beliefs.

Our children's ability to communicate their feelings and interact positively with others helps build good relationships with their family, peers and other adults.  Early attention to delayed development and challenging behaviors can avoid added stress, keep development on track and help families find resources and assistance for the child and the parent.

Strengthening Families benefits ALL families.  When families, communities, service systems and organizations see families through strength first and build on the protective factors everyone will thrive. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

GSRP Age Eligibility Change

Children who turned four by December 1st are now eligible to attend GSRP for the 2017-2018 school year. This legislation change now allows children who turned four between September 2nd and December 1st to enroll. Previously children needed to be four by September 1st.

There are limited GSRP openings available throughout Jackson County. Site openings include: ABC Jackson College, ABC Lansing Avenue, Columbia, Concord, Dibble, and East Jackson. Waiting lists are available for all other locations.

Visit to apply for the 2017-2018 school year.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Winter Safety Tips

Whether we like it or not, winter is officially here -and with it- the snow and plummeting temperatures!  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some valuable tips on how to keep your children safe and warm this winter season.  

What to Wear

  • Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities.  Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm.  Don't forget warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat.  Choose boots that are large enough to comfortably accommodate two pairs of socks.
  • The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
  • When riding in the car, babies and children should wear thin, snug layers, rather than thick, bulky coats or snowsuits.
  • Blankets, quilts, pillows, bumpers, and other loose bedding should be kept out of an infant's sleeping environment because they are associated with suffocation deaths and may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  It is better to use sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers or wearable blankets.


  • Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen.  This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears, and nose.  Skin first becomes red and tingly, then gray and painful and finally white, cold and hard without pain.  Blistering occurs after the skin thaws.
  • Prevent frostbite by dressing in layers, covering all body parts when outside in cold weather.  Bring children indoors if clothing gets wet.
  • Playing in temperatures or wind chills below -15 F should be avoided because exposed skin begins to freeze within minutes.

Winter Health

  • If your child suffers from winter nosebleeds, try using a cold air humidifier in the child's room at night.  Saline nose drops or petrolatum jelly may help keep the nasal tissues moist.  
  • Many pediatricians feel that bathing two or three times a week is enough for an infant's first year.  More frequent baths may dry out the skin.
  • Cold weather does not cause colds or flu.  But the viruses that cause colds and flu tend to be more common in the winter, when children are in school.  Frequent hand washing and teaching your child to sneeze or cough into the bend of the elbow may help reduce the spread of colds and flu.


  • Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.  
  • Children should be supervised while sledding.
  • Children less than 5 years of age should not sled alone.
  • Keep young children separated from older children.
  • Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.
  • Avoid sledding in crowded areas.

Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics to read the complete list.