Governor Proposes $65 Million to Eliminate Waiting List for Free Preschool

Grand Rapids, Mich. — In his newly released budget, the governor is proposing that Michigan increase spending for the Great Start program to allow all parents currently on a waiting list to get their kids into preschool.

According to the governor’s office, currently the state spends around $174 million on the program that provides free preschool to kids across the state.

Governor Rick Snyder wants to spend $65 million more, bringing the total to around $239 million.

The governor read to children at Harrison Elementary in Grand Rapids Thursday and talked to parents at the school to draw attention to that portion of his budget proposal.

Parents we talked to, like Joan Day of Grand Rapids say preschool seems like a must to keep your child on track.

Day said that her 4-year-old son has an issue with his speech and fortunately because he has an “individualized education program” or IEP, through the state, he was allowed into the program.

In his case, she didn’t have to get on a waiting list.

However, she is worried for her 2-year-old daughter.

“When he signed up, we were told he could be put on a waiting list. But, because he had an IEP, he was considered a child in greater need. So, he got a spot right away. With my daughter, she`s not going to have that IEP. So, without that additional funding, she`s going to be put on a waiting list and may not get a spot, and may not have the opportunity to go to preschool.”

Snyder answered questions on how many parents are currently on the waiting list.

“We have to recalculate that. But, when we did this, our initial analysis last year, it was about 29,000,” said Snyder. “So, that`s why last year we opened up about 16,000 new positions for kids to get into and this year, it will be another 16,000. The goal was, is, let`s create 32,000 slots roughly for 29,000 kids. Again, those are half day slots. So, some of them can use more than one and allow some full-day preschool.”

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