Northern Early Childhood Support Network

The Great Start to Quality Northwest Resource Center serves Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Manistee, Leelanau, Missaukee, and Wexford counties in northwest lower Michigan. The Resource Center helps providers find training and support for professional development and quality improvement, helps families find child care and preschool, and helps businesses develop ways to support employees' access to child care.

The Resource Center team is embedded across the ten-county service area to provide local training and technical assistance, lead learning communities and provider study groups, and facilitate distribution of supplies and Lending Library items.  Training and technical assistance, learning communities, and study groups are available through virtual, in-person (if permitted) and hybrid platforms.  Most trainings are offered free of charge unless otherwise noted.

Resource Center services include:

  • Professional Development for all child care/preschool providers; most trainings are open to parents
  • A Lending Library that offers themed bins, curriculum, administrative books, child development materials, DVDs, gross motor items, assessment tools, and more, for use by providers and parents; there is no cost to borrow Lending Library items and suggestions for new items are welcomed
  • Support from Quality Improvement Specialists (QIS) to help programs navigate Great Start to Quality
  • On-site, individual consultation with a Quality Improvement Consultant (QIC) for home- and center-based programs working on a quality improvement plan
  • Professional learning communities for those who serve Infants and Toddlers
  • Great Start to Quality Orientation for license-exempt providers
  • Support for families searching for child care and preschool options

The Resource Center Team:

Mary Manner, Interim Co-Director 

Cell: 231-632-5510 


Kristin Witt, Interim Co-Director 

Work: 231-587-9021 Cell: 231-342-2980


Heather Bardenhagen, QIS/QIC  (Grand Traverse & Leelanau )

Child Care Center Administration trainer

Cell: 231-218-9108 


Terri Bauman, QIS (Benzie & Manistee)

Cell: 231-233-4520 


Susan Chowen, QIS/QIC (Charlevoix, Emmet & Antrim)

Infant/Toddler Specialist

Cell: 231-675-2022


Rebecca Herbst, QIS/QIC (Wexford & Missaukee)

Infant/Toddler Specialist

Cell: 906-450-3670


Jessica Kieng, QIS/QIC (Grand Traverse/Kalkaska)

Cell: 909-292-6070 


Community 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.

Local Partners

In order to provide you and the children in our community with the best opportunities, we partner with various people, organizations and places to help make those opportunities available to you.