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Birmingham to Offer Free Preschool Program This Fall

The district will begin offering the Great Start Readiness Program, a free preschool for 4-year-olds from low-income or struggling families, this October.

Beginning this October, there will be a new option for Birmingham parents looking to enroll their young ones in preschool.

will be offering the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), a free preschool program for students living in the district.

The program, available at many surrounding school districts such as Royal Oak and Southfield, is funded through a grant from the Michigan Board of Education.

To attend during the 2012-13 school year, children must be 4 years old by Dec. 1, 2012 and must meet two of the following criteria:

  • Low family income
  • Diagnosed with a disability or development delay
  • Severe and challenging behavior
  • Primary language other than English
  • Parent with low education attainment
  • Abuse or neglect of the child or parent
  • Other environmental risks, such as parental loss, unstable housing or having a sibling with a chronic illness or disability

Beginning Oct. 1, classes will be held from 12:40-3:40 p.m. Monday-Thursday at , located at 23400 W. 13 Mile Rd. in Bingham Farms. Parents must provide transportation for their child.

"We're very excited to offer this program," said Birmingham Superintendent Daniel Nerad. "It fits well with the many other great services we're able to provide our community. The earlier we can work with our youngest learners, the better."

According to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), GSRP is funded to serve 30,668 children during the 2012-13 school year, at a cost of $103,375,000 to the state. The number served is equivalent to 68 percent of the 45,000 Michigan 4-year-olds living under the poverty line.

A report from the MDE's Office of Great Start — presented to the State Board of Education in mid-June — shows that the program helps students avoid repeating grades and graduate from high school on time.

"This study further validates that quality early childhood education programs like the Great Start Readiness Program are good investments of public resources and should be continued and strengthened," said Susan Broman, director of the Office of Great Start, in a release.

Birmingham Public Schols offers several early childhood programs, including the , the Elementary-Preschool programs at several of the district's elementary schools and Wee Care.

To see if your child qualifies for the Great Start Readiness Program, call 248-503-5800.

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