This month, Michigan and Connecticut scored legislative victories. Both states are making substantial new investments in preschool, dramatically expanding children’s access to high-quality programs.
Michigan’s increased funding will go to the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), which serves children from low-income families.
In 2012, the Center for Michigan’s Bridge Magazine “published a series of articles chronicling how 30,000 Michigan children who qualified for GSRP weren’t in classrooms because of inadequate funding, poor coordination between programs, and lack of transportation.”
Now Bridge has a brighter story to tell.
“More than 10,000 additional Michigan 4-year-olds will likely be in free, high-quality pre-K classrooms this fall, after the House and Senate last night approved a $65 million expansion of the state’s Great Start Readiness Program,” Bridge writer Ron French explained.
“Coupled with a $65 million expansion last year, Michigan has now more than doubled its investment in early childhood education, in the belief that reaching kids early is the best way to improve academic achievement.”
Michigan will spend $10 million of this money on transportation, helping to expand access.
Margie Wallen, director of policy partnerships at the Ounce of Prevention Fund in Chicago told Bridge that Michigan has become a “role model for how to expand quality preschool during tight financial times.”
Action in Connecticut
“More than 1,000 additional pre-kindergarten slots are being allocated to 46 communities across Connecticut, marking the latest step in an effort pushed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to eventually provide universal access to pre-kindergarten across the state,” according to an article posted on ctpost.com, a Hearst Newspapers website.
“We know that investing in high-quality early education is the single most important investment we can make in our state and our economy,” Malloy said last week during an appearance at the Meriden YMCA Child Care Center.
He called for developing “a program that ensures no child loses the opportunity to have a pre-kindergarten learning experience because of their parents’ income or their income.”
Connecticut plans to open access to low-income children in cities and towns across the state. This includes 126 new spots in Bridgeport, 101 in New Britain, 39 in East Hartford, and 40 in Hartford.
“We know that low-income children who have not had access to high-quality preschool face greater challenges in comparison to their wealthier peers who have had high-quality preschool experiences,” Myra Jones-Taylor, Commissioner for the Office of Early Childhood said in a press release. “This expansion will give 1,020 more 3- and 4-year-olds a chance to grow and learn in an enriched learning environment with qualified teachers, providing them with the experience they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.”