What You Need to Know About the High-Quality Preschool Programs in Macomb County

Macomb County offers two Head Start options and the Great Start Readiness Program to help kids from low-income families learn the skills they need for kindergarten and beyond.

Early preschool programs are a great way for children from low-income families to get a jump on learning the skills that they’ll need for future success.

That’s why Macomb Community Action (MCA) — one of 28 community action agencies across Michigan dedicated to fighting poverty — Macomb County and the Macomb Intermediate School District offer high-quality Head Start and preschool options for young learners living Macomb County.

These programs include Early Head Start, Head Start and the Great Start Readiness Program (GRSP).

“At Head Start, we not only commit to teaching the child but their caregivers, too, says Linda Azar, the Children and Family Services Division Director with MCA. “Our programs provide a holistic approach to services. We help families address their immediate needs while giving them support as they plan for future goals.”

Each program takes a child and family’s individual needs into consideration to develop a unique plan that provides stability for the family and teaches kids what they need to know to move onto preschool or kindergarten — both of which have proven positive effects on the child’s future.

“Head Start (and GRSP) children are more likely to graduate high school, attend college and receive a post-secondary degree, license or certification,” Azar says. “In fact, a recently elected senator revealed that he went to Head Start when he was a child.”

If you are interested in enrolling your child in a high-quality preschool program take a look at the three programs offered in Macomb County and get information on how to apply.

Early Head Start

Before a child is born, their mom or dad can enroll them in Early Head Start, which tailors its programming specifically towards the growth and success of pregnant women, infants and toddlers.

“Early Head Start programs promote the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of infants and toddlers through safe and developmentally-enriching caregiving,” Azar explains. “This prepares these children for continued growth and development and eventual success in school and life.”

In addition, families with children in Macomb County’s Early Head Start program also receive assistance that includes housing stability and financial security.

“Early Head Start programs support parents and guardians in their role as primary caregivers and teachers of their children, (and) assist families in meeting their own personal goals of achieving self-sufficiency across a wide variety of domains,” Azar says.

Macomb County Head Start and Great Start Readiness Programs

After Early Head Start, a child can transition to either MCA’s Head Start, which is aimed at kids ages 3-5 and is funded by a federal grant, or MISD’s Great Start Readiness Program, which is a program for 4-year-olds funded by a state grant.

Both of these programs will get kids started on the skills that they need to move into kindergarten.

“Children who attend GSRP (Great Start Readiness Program) participate in activities such as listening, telling stories, problem solving, learning letters and sounds — and much more,” JoAnne Elkin, the early childhood and early literacy consultant at the Macomb Intermediate School District, explains.

“(GSRP) Teachers focus on all areas of development, including physical, social and emotional, early literacy, math, science, social studies, arts, and technology.”

Like Early Head Start, Head Start and GSRP also go beyond the classroom and work with kids to develop their social skills and emotional IQ, all while continuing to provide resources and support for the child’s caregiver.

Enrolling your child

Early Head Start, Head Start and the Great Start Readiness Program are all free for local families who qualify and, unlike preschool or kindergarten, there is no expectation that kids come into these programs with certain skills.

Instead, Azar explains that a team of health, education and family service specialists work with parents to determine where each child is at and what skills they need to learn so that the program can best serve them.

Head Start and Early Head Start are available to families whose household income falls at or below the federal poverty guidelines. Pregnant women and kids ages 0-5 are eligible as are kids who have mental or physical disabilities.

The Great Start Readiness Program is available to all age-eligible children and offers part-day and day-school options.

To apply, you can contact Macomb Community Action at mcaheadstart@macombgov.org or Kelly Adamek, the Great Start Readiness Program coordinator, at 586-228-3468.

For more information on Macomb Community Action or Head Start programming in Macomb County, visit the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development at Make Macomb Your Home.

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