Connecting families to community resources and supporting parent-teacher collaboration.
a Parent Liaison Can Help
Have a question about the school or your child’s academics?
Wondering about activities or resources that are available?
Need help finding childcare?
Need to connect with Department for Health and Human Services for a Bridge card, insurance, or other supports?
We help ensure stability and support for students and families without a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.
Need help connecting with a counselor, psychologist, or other mental health professional?
Beth is in her fourth year as a Parent Liaison for Jenison Public Schools. Prior to this, Beth spent 11 years as a speech pathologist in Grand Rapids and 12 years as an SLP with Jenison’s ASD program. Beth graduated from Western Michigan University with a major in Speech Pathology and minors in Spanish and Elementary Education. She received her M.A. in Speech Pathology from Eastern Michigan University. In her spare time, Beth loves spending time with her family, boating, and reading. Beth provides support to Bursley, Rosewood, and the High School.
Mary has been a Parent Liaison for Jenison Public Schools for six years. Prior to being a Parent Liaison, Mary spent 25 years teaching third grade. Mary graduated from Hope College with a degree in elementary and special education. Her Master’s Degree is from Cleveland State University where she focused on Early Childhood Special Education. Mary loves spending time with her family and friends, traveling, reading, and playing pickleball.
Mary provides support to Pinewood, Sandy Hill, and the Junior High.
Kris is starting her first year as a Parent Liaison for Jenison Public Schools. Prior to being a Parent Liaison, Kris spent 25 years as a school social worker for JPS. Kris graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Psychology. Her Masters in Social Work Degree is from the University of Michigan where she focused on interpersonal practice and community organizing. Kris loves spending time with her family and friends, experiencing live music, and baking. Kris provides support to El Puente, the ECC, Bauerwood, and the JIA.
Rachelle joins the Parent Liaison Team as an administrative assistant after spending 7 years with the Young Life Organization as the YoungLives Coordinator. Rachelle’s supportive skills and an understanding of community needs, as well as her connections to many community resources, make her a great addition to the Parent Liaison Program. In her spare time, Rachelle enjoys spending time with her family, physical fitness, and time in the sunshine.
Opportunities for Families
Things to do THIS WEEK
- Food Truck Fridays: Work up an appetite for the food trucks at Riverside Park with a FREE kayak ride. Kayaks and required equipment will be available for 20-minute rides. Fridays, 5 – 8 PM.
- Step It Up: This free program through Ottawa County Parks is designed to help you stay active and explore new parks. Participants of all ages and fitness levels are invited to join. Simply track and report your activity each week to be eligible for weekly raffle prizes. Get all the details here.
- Teen After School Hangout is at the Georgetown Township Public Library from 3:30-5:00 every Tuesday. Just show up to participate! 1525 Baldwin St, Jenison MI 49428
- Cheap Movie Tickets: Love the movie theater AND your budget? Enter T.A.C.O. Tuesday at Celebration Cinema. Score $4 movies all day long on Tuesdays. To get the deal, all you need to do is sign up for Celebration Cinema’s C Rewards program (it’s free).
- Purrfect: Get your snuggles on again as the Happy Cat Café reopens in Grand Rapids. This newly remodeled coffee shop and cat play place offers the chance to meet and curl up with kitties. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
- Stump the Librarian: If your kids have tough questions, pass them onto “Stump the Librarian.” This KDL podcast is entertaining and educational. Our family has learned a boat load of interesting tidbits!
- Community Give Back Opportunity: Love Your Neighbor is gathering items to put in camp bags for children attending summer camp. Children attending a local camp on scholarship may need some essential items. Please see this flyer for more details on how you can help
Upcoming Family Activities
- Free Ice Cream Party: June 1, 5-7pm. Learn where to enjoy Ice Cream, Music, Yard games and Family Fun here.
- Free Bike Helmets: Save the date! Head to Garfield Park on Saturday, June 3 to score a FREE bike helmet for your child. Stick around for prizes, games, and a fire engine tour. 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM.
- Free Gym Membership: Starting May 15th, teens between the ages of 14-19 can work out for free at Planet Fitness all summer long! Click here for the details.
- Free Workshops at Home Depot: On the first Saturday of each month, Home Depot hosts free workshops for kids. 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM. Registration required.
- Strike!: Kids bowl two FREE games daily all summer long at select bowling alleys. Qualifying age varies by location, but there are also discounts for older family members. Get everyone together for some affordable, old-fashioned fun!
- Summer Camp: No matter your child’s age, there is every kind of summer camp available in West Michigan. The Parent Liaison Office has put together SUMMER CAMP 2023, a list of local camps. You can find day camps, overnight camps, nearby camps and far away camps. There are camps for art, sports, animals, STEM, and good old fashioned play camps. GR Kids has a great list of area camps here. Most camps also offer scholarship opportunities! Ottawa County SHCS has put together a great list of camps for those with special needs as well. Please see the 2023 MI Summer Camp Guide for Special Needs Families for important information to help families find camps and financial resources.
- For ages 5-10, Kent District Library (KDL) LAB Experience: TheKDL LAB Experience promotes creativity, problem solving skills and unstructured exploration time for school-age children and teens. Carefully selected learning tools and activities are designed to help students increase their proficiency in STEAM disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Get your questions answers and register at the KDL website.
- GR Moms: Moms of Grand Rapids is a local community organization designed with all mamas (expecting, first time, or well seasoned) in mind. Playgroups, Moms Night Out, and Game Nights are just some of the things you’ll enjoy as a member of this group!
- “Talking is Teaching”: Help Me Grow Ottawa has offered a free “Talking is Teaching” calendar that offers simple daily interactions that can help boost children’s brain and language development, setting them up for success in school and beyond.
- Virtual Relaxation Rooms! The Virtual Relaxation Room is designed to be an interactive experience. They are designed to help you decompress, refocus, and reduce stress. Click here for easy access to some favorite rooms!
- Georgetown Public Library: Our local public library has a great variety of activities for youth that can be found on their website and in their monthly youth newsletter.
- Kids Eat Free: There are still a few places where kids can eat FREE (or at least discounted) around GR. You’ll have the most weekend options if you dine out on Sunday!
- My Way to Wellness: Are you interested in taking an online nutrition course that fits into your schedule? My Way to Wellness is an online nutrition program offered by MSU Extension offered to SNAP users. It is self-paced, so you can take it any time that works for you, from anywhere! You’ll learn strategies for successful meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking, as well as ideas for stretching food dollars, and ensuring healthy options while eating on the run. The course is free through Oct 2023. Email Amy Prins at email@example.com to get started today!
- Straight Talk: The Ottawa County Department of Public Health brings you this FREE event Learn about the story of a mother and son’s journey through substance abuse. Attendees will hear the dramatic and captivating story, told from the viewpoint of both the person who suffered from substance use and his family and the tools they learned to find health and peace. Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at Central Wesleyan Church in Holland. See more details here and Register for the free event here.
- Thriving Family: OSAP knows it takes effort to establish and maintain a healthy family life. Watch as these different West Michigan families talk about and demonstrate what they do to help their family thrive, the struggles they experience as parents or grandparents, and what you can do within your family. This website also describes what it means to thrive as a family. It also has a series of resources that are available to help parents learn these skills and connect with their youth.
- Parental controls on iPhone/iPad: Knowing how to put boundaries on our kid’s devices can be challenging. This video gives step by step instructions on how to do it as well as how to have conversations with your kids about what is appearing on their screens. For further help, you. may find this video or these written instructions helpful.
- Teen Substance Abuse Education: Today, youth can easily conceal vapes, alcohol, and other substances with everyday, ordinary objects.Tour through a teen’s room staged with 44 different concealment containers, vape pens, and other indicators of youth substance use. Brought to you by Arbor Circle.
- Play and Learn GRCC: If you are a parent or caregiver of a child birth to 5 years old, join this free, weekly, 90-minute program to learn about child development, early reading strategies and positive discipline. While you play with your children, you’ll get great ideas of things you can do to prepare them for success. The curriculum for the Play & Learn Groups is aligned with Michigan Department of Education expectations for kindergarten readiness. Receive free a book when you attend! See all the details here.
- Domestic Violence Survivors: Resilience is offering it’s next support group on Tuesdays in May. Attend in person or virtually. See the details in this flyer.
- Be Better Holland is offering the following free opportunities in March:
Adult S.E.N. Group: Support*Educate*Navigate Group is held virtually every Friday at 12 noon. The topics depend on the week and are stand alone. These topics will guide the discussions. Please click on Groups Schedule for week-by-week general topics
Young Adults 18-24 Life S.H.A.R.E: Support*Health and wellness*Addressing life’s challenges*Relationships* Engaging in life Young Adult Group is held virtually every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at 6:30pm. They are facilitator led and a place to connect with others and talk about relationships, mental health wellness, life goals, and life challenges. See here for details.
Teens 13-17 Life S.H.A.R.E:
Support*Health and wellness*Addressing life’s challenges*Relationships*
Engaging in life Teens
Group is held virtually every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 6:30pm. They are facilitator led and a place to connect with others and talk about relationships, mental health wellness, life goals, and life challenges. Click here for the details
- Ottawa Food’s Community Listening Sessions: These sessions are a space to share lived experiences, challenges, and insights on food assistant programs in Ottawa County. These sessions are a great way to guide local programming and generate opportunities for those with lived experiences to lead and advocate. Participants receive a $25 gift card! Learn how to sign up here.
- FREE Parenting Skills Education Classes: Arbor Circle is bringing parenting/caregiving and professional support to you FREE! Please click on each one of the following for more information.
- Nurturing Parenting Program: FREE Virtual 10-week series in April – June for parents and caregivers! Classes will cover topics including discipline, communication, child development, and problem-solving. This fun and informative class is for parents & caregivers with kids of any age! Classes are held virtually on Tuesday Evenings and Wednesday Afternoons.
Conscious DisciplineSkills Series – Mirroring: Join us for our virtual conscious discipline skills series. In this series we will discuss the different skills presented in the conscious discipline curriculum. Sessions are stand-alone – join us for as many as you’d like! Sessions are the third Tuesday of every month from 7:30 – 8:30pm, starting April 18. Click here to register.
- Engaging Kids in Discipline: Join this FREE 5-week series on understanding discipline and how to engage children in learning. This series uses Conscious Discipline to develop helpful skills in. Participants will be asked to watch two, 1-hour videos per week with virtual follow up discussion sessions on Monday nights, 7:30-9:00pm. May 29th – June 26th, 2023. You must register to participate, see the flier for more information.
- Mental Health Videos: Ottawa Substance Use Prevention Coalition created three to five-minute videos to help youth practice positive mental health skills. Anyone can use these videos in individual or group settings. If you’re a teenager, feel free to watch these on your own. Middle School Videos / High School Videos. Videos are also available for Adult positive mental health skills.
- FREE Support Groups: Resilience of Michigan, Advocates for Ending Violence is offering support groups for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. See the details here.
- Sibshops: peer support groups that offer a safe and engaging space for siblings to learn, have fun, meet and be supported by other children who understand what it’s like to have a sibling with special needs. Click here for more information on having your child participate in Sibshops in Ottawa county. Or, Click here for more information on having your child participate in Sibshops in Grand Rapids.
- Online infant car seat safety classes: Spectrum Health offers this FREE class online monthly. This class is for anyone who is expecting, going to be grandparents, nannies, whomever may put baby in a carseat. This is a great class to be educated on car seat safety and more. Sign up online through SHZCH classes Childbirth and Parenting Classes | Zeeland Community Hospital | Spectrum Health
- Mental Health Support Groups: Be Better in Holland is here to provide guidance, support, and education to the individual and their network. Free support groups are happening now. Learn more here.
- Parent Education Videos: In 2021, Ottawa County Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP) launched a new Parent Education SHORT Video series. Several West Michigan parents self-recorded their parenting experiences or conversations with their teens about topics linked to substance use, mental health, and more. These candid recordings give insight into how parents can engage teens in necessary conversations that may feel uncomfortable to start or other helpful parenting advice. OSAP will release a short video each week on its YouTube Channel. Click here to watch the first video of the new Parent Education Video Series. From there you will be able to see the others or subscribe for future videos.
- GVSU K-12 Connect: Offering free tutoring services and homework help to students in grades K-12. See the link for more information and to sign up.
- Depression / Bipolar /Anxiety Support: Fairhaven church in Jenison is offering a free DBSA support group on the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month. See this flyer for more information.
- MDHHS Medicaid Renewal: At the start of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) MDHHS stopped the Medicaid renewal process. Renewals are restarting. If you have Medicaid, MIChild, or Healthy Michigan Plan you may need to go through the renewal process. This is to find if you are still eligible for free or low-cost Medicaid coverage. See this flier to learn how to take the correct steps for renewal and to answer any questions you may have. The Parent Liaison Office also has a Michigan DHHS navigator willing to help. If you need further assistance, please reach out to your parent liaison.
- Medicaid My Health Portal: There is a free virtual training that discusses a new My Health Portal for Medicaid recipients.This training was helpful as it provides a “find a Dr near me” option and also provides a way for clients to request transportation online now for medical appointments. Upcoming training sessions: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/mphi-hit-hie-engagement-team-17299656807
- Money for College: The Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) encourages eligible Medicaid recipients to complete high school by providing tuition assistance during an eligible student’s qualifying certificate or associate degree program and also during the student’s bachelor’s degree program. Learn more HERE.
- Pathways for Recovery: This meeting meeting is for is for anyone whose life has been affected by life has been affected by alcohol or drug addiction. The meeting format differs from other meetings you may be familiar with. The facilitator will ask the group for a topic of discussion that focuses on strengths, struggles and barriers in life. Meetings are Tuesdays from 6-7pm. Here are the details.
- Baby Essentials: If you, or someone you know, needs a little help providing for your little one, check out the Baby & Toddler Pantry! You can order diapers, formula, wipes, clothing, and more.
- Double Up Food Bucks: Use your EBT Bridge Card at participating farmers markets to get tokens for the purchase SNAP eligible items. Get an equal amount in FREE double up food bucks (up to $10/day) for Michigan grown fruits and vegetables! See all the information on easy it is here and participating Farmers Markets here.
- Where to Find Farmers Markets: Happiness is a trip to the farmers market! Lucky for us, there are tons of opportunities to score fresh produce, flowers, and goods around West MI. GR Kids has a handy 2023 Farmers Market Guide to get the scoop on weekly happenings.
OCCAA Weatherization Program: This program is offered to Ottawa County residence who are homeowners or renters. If renting, apartment complexes are not currently eligible for this program. This is a free program for individuals and homes that qualify. The program includes an inspection that will determine what eligible Weatherization activities will be performed. A licensed contractor will complete these measures and a post inspection will be done for quality assurance. Weatherization tasks may include things like attic insulation, wall insulation, floor insulation, weatherstripping, window caulking, other minor home repairs. Here is a flyer with al the information.
- Your Child’s Development: Did you know you can do the Ages and Stages Development Questionnaire (ASQ) when your infant is as young as 1 month old and up to 60 months? This tool is FREE on the Help Me Grow Ottawa page! Check on your child’s development and milestones throughout their growing up for school readiness.
- Become a Mentor: Are you someone who knows how to guide a conversation, connect with a stranger, strengthen skillsets…? Love Your Neighbor has a Life Skills Program that is the perfect place to hone in on your God-given talents. Become a mentor, see transformation, provide guidance to someone during their season of struggle. If you visualize yourself being a mentor, please reach out to Wendy at Wendyd@lovewm.org to learn more!
Car Seat Safety Check Events: All car seat inspections are free. A limited number of low-cost replacement car seats are available at all locations, for those who qualify. Children who need a replacement seat must be present with a parent or legal guardian. This flyer has all the date and locations.
- Community Emergency Resources: Jenison Public School Parent Liaison Office is glad to offer our community an easily accessible flier that gives information for emergency resources in our area.
- June Mobile Food Pantry Schedule
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program: TEFAP will distribute USDA commodities to households in Ottawa County in December. Distribution will take place at the these sites, dates and times.
- Love Your Neighbor Resale Shop: This community partner offers so many things to our community and one of them is their resale shop. Check out the weekly sales on their website!
- Free COVID tests: MDHHS is announcing its expanded partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation through Project Act to provide 180,000 COVID-19 tests to 36,000 households. All households in the state of Michigan can order their free COVID-19 tests through AccessCovidTests.org. Each household will receive one kit with five tests, typically within a week of ordering. Individuals without internet access can contact 211 for assistance ordering tests.
- Good and Cheap Cookbook: Ottawa Food has provided the Eat Well on $4/day Good and Clean cookbook by Leanna Brown for free! It can be accessed for online at https://books.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf. Ottawa County DHHS also has some of these available in their lobby for anyone interested.
- Food Distribution: Check out this Infographic from Ottawa County Community Action Agency explaining our food assistance programs and how to sign up.
- Free or low cost Broadband Service: The ACP provides up to $30 per month, making many internet plans FREE. The program also provides a one-time discount of $100 for a laptop or tablet. Families that receive free and reduced school lunch; WIC or SNAP benefits; or are enrolled in other programs like Medicaid, Head Start, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) qualify. Apply Here for affordableconnectivity.gov
- Hearing and Vision Screening: The Ottawa County Health Department is offering free vision and hearing screenings for children ages 3-5 years of age. Please see the flyer to sign up!
- Free College: Michigan residents 25 and older who don’t have a college degree can now apply for funding to cover community college tuition costs or skilled trades training scholarships. Click here for more information or to apply.
- Work with an employment coach: through Michigan Works to improve your skills and find a job. All information is on this flyer.
- Looking to Build Resource and Learn New Skills? Families in Hudsonville, Jenison, and Grandville can connect to community and resources at Love Your Neighbor. For families in Holland or Zeeland, Doors of Hope offers practical life skills (financial literacy, parenting, healthy relationships).
- Community Action House Food Club is now open! Please see this video for more information. They are located at: 739 Paw Paw Dr. Holland MI 49423 Food Club FAQs
- Ending Domestic Violence: Resilience offers resources for helping to end domestic violence. Check out the website to get connected or call the 24 Hour Help Line at 1-800-848-5991 for free and confidential support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
- The Fresh Guide to EBT answers all of your questions related to food stamps in Michigan. And best of all, the Fresh EBT app for I-phone and Android helps you keep track of all of your EBT information right on your phone