Big victory for Michigan early childhood

Posted on June 6, 2013
Michigan Capitol

Early childhood education took a major step forward last week as the Michigan Legislature agreed to add $65 million to state preschool funding.

The 60 percent increase for Great Start Readiness Program is being lauded as the nation’s largest expansion of early childhood funding. The additional dollars in the 2013-14 budget year are expected to allow 16,000 more 4-year-olds to attend preschool.

For months, Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed expanding GSRP by $65 million in Fiscal Year 2014 and increasing the per-pupil allotment from $3,400 to $3,625. Last week, both chambers of the Michigan Legislature passed budgets that include language nearly identical to Snyder’s proposal.

The budget includes at least $40 million to be added to the $109 million currently being spent on GSRP, with the possibility of spending another $25 million from a reserve fund if there is sufficient need for the slots.

Children from families with an income of 250 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for GSRP.

MHSA thanks Gov. Snyder and State Sen. Roger Kahn for their dedication to early childhood education and for pushing to bring about this important change.

We are also thankful for the early childhood advocates who worked tirelessly to provide legislators with information, answer questions and constantly make sure this issue was at the forefront of public discussions.

“This expansion will help ensure that more children have a bright future thanks to a preschool education,” said Robin J. Bozek, Executive Director of Michigan Head Start Association. “We know there is hard work ahead for all of us, and we look forward to the role Head Start will play in making sure that as many children as possible are being served.”