Children don’t come with instructions.
Connections is here to help.
Everyone has an opinion on how to raise a child! From your friends to your parents to your coworkers, once you’re a parent, advice flows in. Many parents turn to the online world and that opens up more confusion and can be downright overwhelming for parents. This information and advice overload can come to an end with Connections. Connections recognizes that children don’t come with instructions and that most parents aren’t experts on child development. Our goal is to provide you with just- in time education and ways to monitor your child’s development, so that parents and their children can thrive.
HOW DOES CONNECTIONS WORK?
Connections is available at no cost to parents with children ages 0-5 in Kent and surrounding counties, Ionia and Montcalm counties. Connections empowers parents with knowledge and confidence to reduce the stress of parenthood. Available online or through the mail, Connections empowers parents with age specific developmental screenings, activity ideas,developmental newsletters, access to expert parent coaches and connections to community resources. Connections serves families living in West Michigan, however with internet access this program can reach you wherever you live!
Developmental screening is the most effective and efficient way to identify potential challenges and delays before children enter school. But, it’s often used in a more clinical setting like your pediatrician’s office. Connections puts developmental screening into the hands of the real experts – the children’s parents. Using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), Connections empowers parents to use playtime to track their children’s development. If the parent has a concern or a delay is identified, Connections connects you to one of our parent coaches to ensure you have the support and resources needed to help your child grow.
Social Emotional Activity Sheet
ASQ Activity Sheet
Connections Activity Sheet
What to Expect
Connections will send you an Age Specific Questionnaire (ASQ) every 2-6 months based on the age of your child. Done online or through the mail, you’ll spend 10-15 minutes of playtime answering yes, sometimes or not yet to a series of questions. The ASQ asks asks questions like: “Can your child stack three blocks?” “Does your child speak in phrases with two or more words? “When in front of a large mirror, does your baby smile or coo at herself?” “Does your child jump with both feet leaving the floor at the same time?”
TOP TEN LIST OF CONNECTIONS – Benefits
- No cost for enrolling and participating in Connections.
- Information specific to your child’s age (from 2 months to 60 months).
- Peace of mind – active participation in the Connections program gives you the information you need, significantly reducing worry and uncertainty about your child’s development.
- Increase parent and caregiver confidence by providing child development information from credible sources.
- A circle of support! Connections partners with childcare centers, medical resources, parent programs, and preschools to surround your child with the support they need by keeping everyone involved with your child aware of their development. Partners include: Helen Devos Children’s Hospital, Appletree Christian Learning Centers, and ELNC Preschool and Parent Programs.
- Trained professionals to talk with if you have questions or concerns.
- Receive activity ideas to support development through play and interaction with your child (which strengthens parent/child bond!)
- Receive developmental newsletters that provide clear understanding of child development expectations.
- Seasonal newsletters with information of free or low cost local family and child friendly activities available.
- Readiness packets that help you track how your child is developing and what to expect to do to get ready for their year of life.
5 Ingredients For Strong Families
Additional tools include activity ideas, developmental newsletters, preschool and kindergarten readiness packets, and seasonal newsletters all leveraging the 5 ingredients for strong families:
“We were able to identify a need for Carter to receive special services through Family Futures.” – Mary Bacon
Mary Bacon’s son, Carter was just four months old when she signed up with the Connections program through Family Futures. At 14 months of age a low score was registered on his ASQ results and Connection parent coaches quickly connected the Bacons to a local resource for help. At 18 months of age, Carter began showing good progress! As Mary shares, “We began working with Kentwood schools special education program to help Carter with his speech and motor development. Without Family Futures and the Connections program, I would have not been as ‘tuned in’ to the possibility that Carter was behind in some of these areas.” Carter is now a fifth grader attending Kentwood Public Schools and his mother is happy to report that he continues making steady progress in language skills and fine motor skills. Mary also shared with us how Carter is a very happy, loving boy with a wonderful spirit who loves to ride his bike and play with his trucks!
WHAT CAREGIVERS ARE SAYING ABOUT CONNECTIONS
Each year Connections families are asked to provide feedback about the program in the form of a survey. This year’s response from over 1,000 families once again included incredibly helpful feedback. We’re listening to the suggestions and working hard to incorporate them into the program. Here is a summary of the results.
Volunteers are integral to building brighter futures here in Kent County. If you are interested in learning more about our Connections program and how you can help, please call (616) 454-HOPE (4673) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Make a difference toward the youngest among us and help give parents the support they need. Join our efforts and contribute to our Connections program today. Your generous support will touch lives at a time when they need it most.
It takes an entire community to protect children and support families. Those helping us create a better future include:
- Kent County Health Department
- Multiple community resources
Our funding is provided in part by:
- Michigan Department of Human Services
- Spectrum Health Heathier Communities
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation
- United Way
- Michigan Health Endowment Fund
- Old National Bank
- Wege Foundation
- PNC Foundation
- Private donations
- Program participants able to contribute