What are the no-cost early child care/preschool options in our area?
Early Head Start (EHS):
Infant-toddler education services are provided in both the home-based and center-based program option. This program is for children ages birth to three.
In the home-based program, staff promote learning by using the setting in which children spend most of their time- the home. The home visitor helps parents to better understand how simple household items and everyday experiences enhance learning.
In the center-based program, caregivers promote learning within the daily routine of care and by changing the environment as children learn new skills.
Head Start (HS):
Head Start programs are designed to serve the needs of their communities. Center-based services include full- and half-day options. In the Home-Based option, Head Start staff conducts weekly parent visits that focus on helping parents in the role as their child's first teacher.
Head Start's comprehensive approach to child development includes eight domains of learning: language development, literacy, mathematics, science, creative arts, social-emotional development, approaches to learning, and physical health and development. Additional services which may be available include mental health, dental, hearing. Each Head Start program is required to align its curriculum and assessment tools with the domains of learning to ensure that children make progress toward expected goals. This program is for children ages three to five.
Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP):
Provides preschool programs for four-year-old children who may be "at risk" of school failure. There is no cost to families, but enrolled children must qualify for the program. Both center-based and home-based models are available. All programs provide strong family involvement and parent education components as well as preschool education.
Center-based and private home-based programs:
These are DHS-licensed facilities, private homes or programs that may offer one or both of early child care and/or preschool. While these programs all charge tuition, all will accept scholarship payments from our program.
Important Rules about Tuition-Free Early Care/Preschool
- There are rules that all of the child care and preschool programs that are receiving state and/or federal funding have to follow when it comes to how and where kids who are eligible for tuition-free preschool are placed.
- These rules are based on government requirements that we (all government funded programs) MUST follow. In our area, this includes: Early Head Start; Head Start; and Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP- for 4-year-olds), which is full-day, tuition-free preschool funded by the State of Michigan, with no cost to parents, if income eligible.
- The federal government’s main rule for Early Head Start (EHS) and Head Start (HS) programs is that all children who are income-eligible are placed in EHS and HS programs first, until they are full and have a waiting list. Then, for 4-year-olds, if Head Start is not an option, the local GSRP must be explored to see if your child is eligible for the program.
- It is ALWAYS a parent’s choice where to send their child and every parent ALWAYS has the final “say-so” as to where their child attends a program.
Why Early Childhood Development & Learning are Important
Every day, we see new studies about the human brain that tell us just how much we learn by the time we reach the age of five. We are learning more all the time about how important it is for children to use language; experience music, movement and art; and interact with peers at an early age. The more we strengthen these areas in our youngest children, the more likely they are to enter Kindergarten with a positive attitude and better prepared emotionally, socially, and academically.
Research shows us that kids who attend an early care/learning program before they enter school are:
- Much better adjusted socially and emotionally to get along with peers and authorities;
- Perform better in school – especially in math and reading - throughout their entire school careers; and
- Are as much as 75% less likely to: drop out of school; be involved with juvenile justice; become a teen parent; and/or be financially dependent upon government assistance.