Whitmer expands access to statewide preschool program

Image by klimkin from Pixabay

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her plan to increase funding for the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), the state-funded preschool program for four-year-old children. 

“The investments announced today provide access to all eligible children and will help narrow the achievement gap between high-income and low-income students,” Whitmer said Tuesday.

Currently, the program has only been able to serve 66% of eligible children statewide, about 43,100 kids, according to a press release from Whitmer’s office.

An estimated 65,400 Michigan students are eligible for the program.

Whitmer’s plan would be funded with an additional $255 million in federal dollars and $150 million in state dollars, for a total of $405 million, over the next three years. 

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“There is bipartisan support to expand preschool access for kids across Michigan and I am pleased we can make this investment,” said State Budget Director David Massaron. “I think it’s important to note that this is a plan with identified resources to ensure we can sustain full access into the future. The fact that this is not just a one-time investment for one year but rather a plan that incorporates continued investment in future years is extremely exciting.”  

The plan also calls for an additional $50 million in federal funds to support a successful expansion, including:

  • About $22.5 million to ensure an adequate supply of providers based on regional demands
  • $15 million for expanded transportation for early education, in addition to the $10 million currently dedicated to transportation
  • $7 million to provide scholarships to early educators and  provide curriculum purchasing and training grants to ensure all programs are using state-recommended, research-based material
  • $5.5 million to expand outreach efforts to increase parental awareness of the availability of free programs in their area and developing web resources to connect parents to all programs in their area 

“There is no better investment than our children,” said Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint). “As a former teacher, I’ve seen firsthand the long-term benefits of a quality preschool education, and that’s why I am so glad that Governor Whitmer is making the Great Start Readiness Program available to more of Michigan’s kids. Her plan cuts down the financial and logistical barriers that currently stand between families and preschool, ensuring that more children start their education on the right foot.”

Allison Donahue
Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.