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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

New 2-1-1 phone program connects parents in need with local preschool enrollment offices this August

Bridge Michigan
Talent & Education
New 2-1-1 phone program connects parents in need with local preschool enrollment offices this August

If you have a 4-year-old child and live in a household with low or moderate income, you are one call away from a great opportunity for your family.

Michigan’s preschool program, Great Start Readiness, is a proven way to provide key social and learning skills that can greatly help young children prepare to learn once they reach kindergarten and the school grades beyond.

Yet, for years, tens of thousands of eligible 4-year-olds could not attend GSRP classrooms because there were not enough open seats. That’s all about to change. If you want to give your 4-year-old a Great Start on learning, it’s as easy as calling 2-1-1 beginning in August.

Michigan has opened up 18,750 more GSRP preschool slots for classes beginning in September. By calling 2-1-1, interested parents will be directed straight to their local GSRP enrollment offices to sign up (if they meet income eligibility guidelines).

The new 2-1-1 GSRP referral service is a collaboration between the United Way, the Center for Michigan, and local service providers such as Michigan Works offices and food pantries. By early August, the Center for Michigan will place GSRP recruitment fliers with the 2-1-1 phone number in high-traffic locations throughout 13 counties where unmet need for GSRP slots is high and major preschool expansion is planned this fall. Those counties are Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Ottawa, Washtenaw and Wayne.

“Our goal is to help in some small way as local schools and other preschool providers work to fill every new available GSRP slot this fall,” said AJ Jones, operations manager for the Center for Michigan.

This spring, Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan legislature added $65 million to GSRP.  It is the largest state expansion of public preschool in the nation this year. The expansion came just months after Bridge Magazine documented some 30,000 “forgotten 4-year-olds” who were eligible for GSRP but not enrolled due to a lack of slots.

"The expansion is a wonderful opportunity to get more 4-year-olds in GSRP and communities are working hard at it,” said Doug Luciani, co-chair of Children’s Leadership Council of Michigan, a group of more than 100 statewide executives who advocate on behalf of business, education and social service entities that helped persuade lawmakers to invest more in GSRP. “This flier and 2-1-1 referral service will complement local efforts nicely.”

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