Children don’t come with instructions…

Connections is here to support you!

Connections is available at no cost to parents with children ages 0-5 in Kent, Ionia, Montcalm, and surrounding counties. Connections empowers parents with knowledge and confidence to reduce the stress of parenthood. Available online or through the mail, connections provides 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

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

Connections Newsletter

ASQ Activity Sheet

Connections Activity Sheet

What to Expect

Connections will send you an Ages and Stages 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 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 their self?” “Does your child jump with both feet leaving the floor at the same time?”

Top 10 Benefits of Connections

  1. No cost for enrolling and participating in Connections.
  2. Information specific to your child’s age (from 2 months to 60 months).
  3. 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.
  4. Increase parent and caregiver confidence by providing child development information from credible sources.
  5. A circle of support! Connections partners with childcare centers, medical resources, parent programs, and preschools to surround your child with people who are aware of their development. Partners include: Helen Devos Children’s Hospital, Appletree Early Care and Preschool, and ELNC Preschool and Parent Programs.
  6. Trained professionals to talk with if you have questions or concerns.
  7. Receive activity ideas to support development through play and interaction with your child (which strengthens parent/child bond!)
  8. Receive developmental newsletters that provide clear understanding of child development expectations.
  9. Seasonal newsletters with information of free or low cost local family and child friendly activities available.
  10. 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:

What Caregivers are Saying about Connections


Each year Connections families are asked to provide feedback about the program in the form of a survey. Past year’s response from over 1,000 families includes incredibly helpful feedback. We’re listening to the suggestions and working hard to incorporate them into the program. Here is a summary of the past year’s results.

I was worried about my child’s speech. The phone call from the parent coach was very helpful and reassuring since I did not have a doctor check up until months later to discuss my concerns. The parent coach put me at ease and my child is making many gains.
Connections is wonderful! I know exactly where my children should be developmentally and what areas we can work on. I feel more informed and prepared for what they need to be doing. Also, its helped us get ready for preschool!
Although I am a nurse who has lots of experience with kids, it is completely different when it comes to your own. Connections helped me know what to expect at each stage and I love the tips, especially on discipline at various ages/stages.


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 Health and Human Services
  • Spectrum Health Healthier Communities
  • Amway
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation
      • Michigan Health Endowment Fund
      • Old National Bank
      • Wege Foundation
      • PNC Foundation
      • Private donations
      • Program participants able to contribute
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