By: Lisa Eack/
Preschool on the Brain-
It is that time of year again! Parents begin to think about enrolling their child in preschool for the fall. Preschool can be a difficult and sometimes expensive decision for parents. But did you know that there are many free preschool options for families that qualify here in Lenawee County?
Head Start is federally funded and administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services while the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) is the state-funded program based in the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). The state-funded program was designed to expand access to preschool for children in families unable to qualify for Head Start or those without access because of too few available, funded Head Start slots.
The two initiatives each offer a developmental preschool program but they differ in eligibility and funding. The federally funded Head Start program primarily provides a four-day preschool experience during the school year (32 weeks) for children ages 3 or 4 in center-based programs. Traditionally 90 percent of children qualified with family income below the poverty level.
Head Start is a comprehensive federally funded preschool program, obligated to provide access to oral and physical health services, and social services. Every Head Start program has a health manager, often a nurse, to complete any missing components of the required physical exam. Head Start staff also conducts screenings and provide follow-up with nutrition, socialization, and mental health counseling.
The Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) is Michigan’s preschool program for four year olds. GSRP is a 30-week classroom-based experience to prepare children for kindergarten. At least half of children in any GSRP program must live in families with income below 250 percent of the poverty level, www.sghs.org/fullpanel/uploads/files/2016-federal-poverty-level-chart–002-.pdf . GSRP helps children get ready for school, increases attendance and reduces the number of children who repeat a grade by almost one-half. There are 18 Great Start Readiness class rooms throughout the county, most are full day and run Monday through Thursday, and some provide transportation.
It is a very simple process to see if you may qualify for either of these programs! The first step is to visit www.lenaweefreepreschools.org and complete a short interest form. This provides us with a snapshot of your family and helps us determine which program your child could potentially qualify for. Based off of that information you will either receive an application for the Great Start Readiness Program or you will receive a call from Head Start to begin their application process.
If you receive an application for the Great Start Readiness Program you will need to provide your 2015 income which includes a W-2 or tax return and proof of residency which would be a utility bill. Unfortunately, we cannot accept a driver’s license as proof of residency. Once your application is complete and you have returned it to our office we will process the application and touch base with about next steps.
If you have more questions about this process please call our office at 517-266-4821 or you can attend the upcoming Preschool Fair on March 12th from 10-1 at the Adrian Mall.
Lisa Eack has served as Parent Liaison for Lenawee Great Start for six years. Before joining Lenawee Great Start, Lisa worked with Holy Cross Children’s Services at their Boysville Campus. She is an Upper Peninsula native who has resided in Adrian for 15 years and is mom of three, Rory 8, Gavin 6, and Delaney 4.