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Expansions to GSRP Will Benefit Thousands of Children and Families

LANSING – Expansions to Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), the nationally recognized state-funded preschool for four-year olds, will provide more families with greater early education options for their children, according to the Michigan Department of Education.

“Every child deserves a solid foundation for academic success and that starts with pre-K,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “In the bipartisan budget I just signed, we are creating more free pre-K slots this fall and expanded programs across the state from four to five days. Together, we will continue working towards our goal of Pre-K for All by the end of 2026, saving families $10,000 a year per child and giving every kid a fair shot at a bright future.”

The state legislature approved, and the governor signed into law, a Fiscal Year 2023-24 state budget for this school year that includes an additional $72 million, for a total investment of $524 million. The new state budget also allows for GSRP providers to expand their program from four instructional days a week to five days per week and from 30 instructional weeks a year to 36 weeks, and increases the number of families that can qualify for the program.

“Five instructional days a week and 36 instructional weeks a year will help our four-year-olds better prepare for kindergarten and will help parents better provide education and care for their children. We are appreciative that the legislature and governor were supportive of these recommendations that MDE made last fall, which will offer trajectory-shifting opportunities for Michigan children and Michigan pre-school enrollment,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice.

The new program option starting this fall is GSRP Extended Week/Year. This option will operate for at least the same length of day as a district’s first grade program for a minimum of 5 days per week, 36 weeks per year. With the new statutorily approved flexibility, many intermediate school districts (ISDs) and their local education agency and community-based organization partners are ready to offer extended instructional time to families at the beginning of this school year.

ISDs have requested enrollment funding for over 8,800 children in the GSRP Extended Week/Year option alone. In addition, while in 2022-23, GSRP enrollment surpassed pre-pandemic levels with enrollment of 38,140, ISDs are requesting enrollment funding to serve roughly 52,300 children for the 2023-24 program year.

"Thirty-two classrooms in Oakland County will offer a 5-day, extended week Great Start Readiness Program this school year," said Oakland Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson. "We surveyed (local) superintendents and GSRP program administrators who shared with us that an extended program better meets the needs of families, aligns with the K-12 calendar, and increases instructional time to improve kindergarten readiness."

“Perhaps now more than ever, access to a high-quality preschool experience, that eliminates traditional barriers that families face, is key to a child’s successful future,” said Jamie Huber, superintendent of the Cheboygan-Otsego-Presque Isle Educational Service District (COPESD). “The recently approved budget provision to expand the days and weeks of GSRP programming in the coming school year will do just that for families and children across the COPESD’s three-county region. In partnership with our area GSRP providers, it is our hope that the expanded 5 day per week programming will lead to more children being served in order to foster their school readiness, growth, and success.”

“Kent ISD is excited to play a role in extending the Great Start Readiness Program to five days a week, as it is a winning formula for our region and the families we serve,” said Kent ISD Superintendent Ron Koehler. “Extending early childhood education to five days a week is a win for children, who will benefit from additional instruction; for working parents, whose children can be enrolled for a full week of instruction throughout the school year; and for Michigan’s efforts to build a world-class knowledge-based workforce.”

Existing program options (part-day, GSRP/Head Start blend, and school-day) will continue to be offered. Some areas also offer transportation to families.

GSRP eligibility is primarily determined based on family household income, which was also increased for 2023-24 program year to $90,000 for a family of four; however, other factors such as a child’s diagnosed disability, parent education, and primary home language other than English may also be considered.

There is still time to enroll for fall! Parents can visit to find a GSRP near them, or they may contact their local intermediate school district.

“We encourage parents to continue to enroll their four-year-olds in GSRP pre-school for this school year,” said Dr. Rice.  “A year of high-quality pre-school is a proven way to improve academic and life outcomes, from literacy to life-long learning to earning. Enroll now and give your children the gift that keeps on giving.”

Governor Whitmer and the legislature also invested an additional $35 million for GSRP classroom start-up grants to help open new classrooms to meet the demand that Pre-K for All will bring. This funding will flow to ISDs, and their school district and community-based organization partners, which may invest $25,000 into each new classroom opened or classroom that has expanded capacity to serve more eligible children.

The GSRP program meets all 10 quality benchmarks recommended by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), quality benchmarks such as having strong teacher credentials, low staff-child ratios, smaller class sizes, and having a research-based curriculum.

The high-quality early education/GSRP has continued to support Goal 1 of the state’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan to expand early childhood learning opportunities.