Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 8, 2021
Governor Whitmer Announces Over 35,000 four-year-olds enrolled in the Great Start Readiness Preschool Program
Spaces remain for children to start preschool in January 2022, governor encourages eligible families to apply
LANSING, Mich. - Today, Governor Whitmer celebrated the bipartisan expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program, or GSRP, Michigan's homegrown preschool program for four-year-olds. She encouraged families to enroll their children now to start preschool in January 2022. Over 35,000 four-year-olds are enrolled right now.
"Every parent wants the best possible start for their child, and for many families, this includes a high-quality preschool experience," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. "Here in Michigan, we are fortunate to have a homegrown program that takes the guesswork out of picking a quality, affordable preschool. The Great Start Readiness Program provides eligible families access to quality, no-cost preschool that works. I'm proud of the progress we've made to enroll more four-year-olds and encourage more families to consider this option for their young Michiganders."
"I appreciate the governor and legislature's partnership on the funding of universal preschool for all eligible four-year-olds," said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. "Once fully realized, this effort to add a full year of education for tens of thousands of Michigan children a year will have a profound impact on student outcomes including literacy, graduation and post-secondary attainment rates for decades to come."
"Our Great Start Readiness Program provides more than 800 Muskegon County children a high-quality preschool experience each year in both public school and private childcare settings," said Dr. John Severson, Superintendent of Muskegon ISD and Chair of the Instructional Committee at the Michigan Association for Intermediate School Districts. "Outcome data show that 'graduates' of local GSRP programs consistently score higher on 3rd-grade assessments than their peers. In addition, a large focus of the GSRP curriculum is placed on developing children's social skills, which are so crucial for success later in their school careers. GSRP is an invaluable tool in building strong foundations in Muskegon County children."
"Our partnership with GSRP has helped to bridge major gaps within our organization. We can provide our staff with access to reliable resources, and we can provide competitive pay rates and room to grow within the early childhood industry," said Monique Snyder, Director of Brainiacs Clubhouse, a child development center in Detroit. "Our parents can breathe more easily knowing that their children are able to attend a high quality educational program without the financial stress that usually yields a program of this magnitude. Most importantly our students have opportunities that are not readily available within our demographics. We value our 7 year partnership with GSRP and can't wait to see what the future holds!"
Programs are still enrolling, and children can start preschool in January. To be eligible for free preschool, children must be at least four years old by December 1, 2021 and meet income eligibility requirements. Parents can find sites in their community by visiting Michigan.gov/GSRP or calling the Great Start to Quality Resource Center at 877-614-7328.
The expansion is the first of a three-year phase-in which seeks to ensure access to 22,000 additional income-eligible children by the fourth year. Since September, more sites have opened expanding access for children across Michigan-including new sites affiliated with 61 community-based organizations and 21 school districts.
In July, Governor Whitmer signed the school aid budget, which made the largest education investment in state history and eliminated wait lists and expanded access to GSRP for all eligible children. The new investment includes an $121 million in federal funding and $47.5 million from the School Aid Fund, for a total new investment of $168.5 million. Michigan now invests a total of $418 million annually in GSRP.
Investments in preschool pay massive dividends and improve health, educational, and social outcomes for children throughout their education. GSRP not only provides quality early education for young children, it is also good for working families that need more safe, affordable childcare options while they work.
In September, the governor signed the Fiscal Year 2022 budget bill that includes game-changing investments in childcare and delivers on the kitchen-table issues that matter most to families, communities, and small business. The budget puts 167,000 Michiganders on a tuition-free path to higher-education or skills training, repairs or replaces 100 bridges while creating 2,500 jobs, and makes a $500 million deposit into our rainy day fund, the largest one-time ever, bringing its balance to nearly $1.4 billion, the highest ever.