Free Preschool? Call Now for Fall

If you live in Kent County and have a child who will be 3 or 4 years old by October 1, 2014, take note: your little one just might qualify for free preschool this fall. Thanks to state funding, county-wide collaboration, and dozens of providers, more 3- and 4-year-olds will be enrolled in preschool for the 2014-15 school year.

“This is a fabulous opportunity for families who qualify,” said Judy Freeman, director of Great Start Collaborative for Kent County. Great Start is the statewide network of early childhood providers. “All Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) preschools offer a safe environment, healthy snacks, fun learning activities, and developmental assessments. This is one of the best deals going in the state of Michigan. We anticipate thousands of inquiries, so parents should start calling now.”

Parents can call 616.447.2409 to see if they qualify; assistance is available in English and Spanish. The website will feature essential information as well. Kent ISD is hosting the website, managing the call center, and providing preschool teachers to most school districts.

“We strongly encourage parents of preschoolers to call now for fall,” said Mike Ghareeb, director of early childhood education for Kent ISD. “Just like the campaign says, success starts early… and the earlier parents call, the better their chances of getting a free preschool enrollment by fall.”

Families qualify for free preschool based on their income or other factors such as special needs, foster care, or high risks. Guidelines vary based on the age of the child.

“If in doubt, by all means call,” said Rebekah Fennell, executive director of First Steps Kent, an early childhood advocacy organization. “The call is free. The information is invaluable. And starting early? Priceless.”