Editorial: Spread the word on the Great Start Readiness Program | Editorials

When it comes to high quality, affordable childcare in northern Michigan, being rich is rarely an embarrassment.

Just last month, the Record Eagle reported a worrying spate of childcare closings, with 74 daycare centers in Grand Traverse County closed in the past three years, according to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs data.

But with Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program – a government-funded full-day or part-day preschool program for 4-year-olds – our region’s largest school district doesn’t have enough students to fill seven government-funded classrooms.

We only fill five.

GSRP – even at risk in the spring of 2020 when the board members of the Traverse City Area Public School voted 6-1 to hire them and fire five teachers instead of making up a projected shortfall of $ 125,000, one decision remained at a donation of 70,000 Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation USD – Got a major government shot in the arm.

The program, funded by Northwest Education Services (the former Intermediate School District) and administered by the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, received a per student increase from $ 7,250 per student to $ 8,700 this year.

North Ed also received a grant of more than $ 400,000 last year to open services for 3-year-olds in the area.

We agree with Christine Thomas-Hill, TCAPS Associate Superintendent of Finance and Operations, who finds it “hard to believe” that few parents are interested in GSRP programs.

“I think it’s more like they either aren’t aware of this or don’t have access to the resources to apply,” said Thomas-Hill.

With so much noise and fragmented information gathering, we can no longer build it up and only expect people to come.

The state and its administrators need to improve recruitment and facilitate access to program applications.

The four-day weekly program is open to all Michigan families. It’s free for those on incomes less than 250 percent of the state poverty line (under $ 66,250 per year, $ 5,521 per month, or $ 1,275 per week for a family of four) and also offers a tiered tuition option for Families above ($ 362 each). Year for the same family of four raising between $ 62,751 and $ 87,850, or $ 725 per year for more than $ 87,850).

The GSRP classrooms are staffed with certified teachers and an early childhood specialist, and use the Michigan Department of Education curricula.

TCAPS currently hosts GSRP classrooms at Blair (two), Courtade, Silver Lake, and Long Lake Elementary Schools. We, like GSRP teacher Lindsey Ross, would like to see one at every TCAPS elementary school in the future.

“The more GSRP classrooms we have in the district, the more families and students we can support,” said Ross.

The state built it, but the families have to come.

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