The Great Start to Quality Resource Center serves Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties. Located in Portage, MI, our Resource Center helps families with their Southwest Michigan child care search and supports providers with improving their programs.
We have been providing services for families seeking child care in Southwest Michigan for over 40 years. Being a Great Start to Quality Resource Center allows us the opportunity to achieve our mission making sure that children in our region have access to quality child care that is safe and provides inspiring care for children.
Services for Parents
Help in Finding Child Care:
- Assistance in navigating the Great Start to Quality website to generate your own referral list.
- Assistance through staff generated referral lists based on your individual needs.
- Referrals to Great Start Readiness Programs in our community.
Help for Paying for Child Care:
- Referrals to the Department of Health and Human Services to access child care subsidies.
- Referrals to scholarship programs that are available.
Referrals to Other Community Programs for Services:
- Lists of resources in each county that might meet the needs of individual families.
Information on Early Childhood:
- Staff are available to answer questions about early childhood development and concerns.
- Trainings that deal with a variety of topics can be attended by parents.
- Lending library that includes resources such as books on early childhood, learning bins, children’s books and a variety of other materials.
Services for Child Care Providers
- Trainings are held on a monthly basis in each of the counties that we serve.
- Quality Improvement Specialists are available to assist child care providers and programs who want to participate in the Great Start to Quality system.
- Quality Improvement Consultants are available to provide support in improving and maintaining quality for those providers and programs participating in the Great Start to Quality system.
- Resources are available for unlicensed and licensed and registered child care programs in our Lending Library.
- Technical Assistance is available for all providers via email or phone.
- Monthly Child Care Connections meetings for home based providers and Center Directors meetings are also available.
The Southwest Resource Center provides additional services to unlicensed, subsidized providers as well as registered and licensed home based providers in Kalamazoo County. These opportunities are funded through Michigan Department of Education-Office of Great Start with the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant. The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge staff provide services to a cohort of 20 unlicensed, subsidized care providers through training and technical support to improve the quality of care they offer. They also outreach to licensed and registered home based providers to assist them in entering into the Great Start to Quality system.
Southwest Resource Center Staff
|Program Director – April Goodwin|
|Director of Operation – Renee Diaz|
|Administrative Assistant – Keyara Harley|
|Quality Improvement Specialists|
|Ra’Shel Abbott – serves Van Buren, Cass, Berrien and Kalamazoo (Family/Homes) counties.|
|Elia Garcia – serves Allegan, Kalamazoo (Centers) and St. Joseph counties.|
|Whitney Holloway – serves Branch, Calhoun, Barry and Kalamazoo (Family Group/Homes) counties.|
|Quality Improvement Consultants|
|Amy Lason – serves Barry, Calhoun and Branch counties.|
|Jodi Graham – serves Kalamazoo (Centers), Berrien and Infant/Toddler Learning Communities.|
|Gail Lager – Van Buren, Cass and Kalamazoo (Family Houses) counties.|
|Peggy Fielhauer – serves Allegan, Branch and Kalamazoo (Family Group/Homes) counties.|
Community Partners & Resources
We work with many people and organizations in the community to provide you, your family and your program with the resources you need to help your family and children succeed.
There are professional development trainings available throughout the state. You can search for a training near you or about a specific subject through MiRegistry.
If you have additional questions or need help, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Child Care Resources
5250 Lovers Lane
Portage, MI 49002
877-614-7328 (toll free)