Great Start fosters school readiness and life success for young children

Great Start

Great Start is Michigan's nationally recognized state-wide initiative to foster school readiness and life success for young children.

Our Mission

St. Clair County will have a coordinated system of community resources and supports to assist all our families in providing a great start for children from birth through third grade.

Our Vision

Every child in St. Clair County will have a great start in life. They will be safe, healthy, and eager to succeed in school and in life.

Great Start System

The Great Start System looks at the child as a whole. It identifies the importance of early childhood experiences in five key areas: physical health, social and emotional health, parenting leadership, family support, and early care and education.
Great Start recognizes that education begins at birth and that it is important to build an early childhood system in the spirit of collaboration and with common goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the term “early childhood” mean, and what are early childhood services?

Early childhood means prenatal to school entry. Early childhood services encompass an array of supports designed to address children’s health, development and learning prior to school entry. Early childhood services include child care, preschool, parenting education, and regular visits to a pediatrician and family practitioner. For children with developmental delays or at risk due to family circumstance, services can include special education, mental health treatment, home-based parenting education, and developmental therapies like physical, occupational and speech therapy.

What is the Early Childhood Investment Corporation?

The Early Childhood Investment Corporation is a unique public nonprofit created in 2005 to serve as a catalyst for change. Bridging the public and the private sectors, the Investment Corporation is devoted to the well-being and school readiness of children. The Investment Corporation funds and works closely with the Great Start Collaboratives and Great Start Parent Coalitions and administers Michigan’s child care quality resources through the Great Start Child Care Quality Program.

What is the difference between all of the “Great Starts” in St. Clair County?

Great Start Collaborative (GSC) The GSC is a partnership of community members including parents, school representatives, business community members, health care professionals, agencies, programs, child care providers, and interested individuals. The GSC works with the partners to have a coordinated system of community resources and supports for families in St. Clair County with children from birth through age five.
Great Start Parent Coalition (GSPC) The GSPC is a group of dedicated parents who assist in building support and awareness of early childhood, strengthen the civic and volunteer engagement, educate policy-makers, and support the work of the GSC.
Great Start Home Visiting The goals of this program are to improve school readiness, encourage literacy, reduce the need for special education services and foster the maintenance of stable families by encouraging positive parenting skills; enhancing parent-child interaction; providing learning opportunities to promote intellectual, physical and social growth; and promoting access to needed community services through a community-school-home partnership that provides parents with information on child development from birth to age five.
Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP)
The Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) is Michigan’s FREE preschool program for four year old children who qualify. GSRP gives children a classroom experience to prepare them for kindergarten. GSRP helps children get ready for school, increases attendance and reduces the number of children who repeat a grade by almost one-half.
Great Start to Quality Resource Center (GSQRC)
The GSQRC provides a variety of services to parents, guardians and child care providers throughout the State of Michigan. Services provided include child care trainings, Great Start to Quality Orientations, child care quality improvement, Lending Library materials and more.
Head Start Head Start is a national program (federally funded) that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families.

Did you know?

According to Kids Count data 2011:

In 2009 18.6% of our children in St. Clair County 0-17 years of age were living in poverty.

In 2010 42.7% of our students in St. Clair County were eligible for free or reduced priced lunch.

In 2009, 31.4% of our babies were born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy.

Great Start Successes

Each year the Great Start Collaborative makes a difference in the lives of children in St. Clair County.


  • Over 250 children received a backpack full of materials to better prepare them for the first day of kindergarten.
  • A new Strategic Plan was developed


  • The 4th and newest Great Start Family Center opened in Marysville on RESA's campus.
  • Over 1000 children receiving home visiting services will receive a free book from their home visitor. 
  • Helped launch Imagination Library in St. Clair County in October 2012


  •  Secured $21,000 in grants for Imagination Library from the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and 100 Women Who Care.