Michigan to Expand Pre-k Services

An estimated 16,000 additional 4-year-olds in Michigan will be able to enroll in preschool next year under a budget enacted by the legislature.  Governor Rick Snyder is set to sign into law his proposal to increase funding for preschool in his 2013 budget request by 60 percent.  Snyder’s 2013 budget includes $65 million more for The Early Start Readiness Program. He reportedly plans to seek an additional $65 in the 2014 state budget to expand pre-k services further. 

If Snyder succeeds in obtaining expanded funding in next year's budget, the additional funding would more than double the number of four-year-olds with access to pre-k, from the current 32,000 to a projected 66,000 in two years. The budget will help pay the full cost of preschool for disadvantaged children whose families make up to 250 percent of the poverty line. The income cutoff is roughly $39,000 for a parent with one child, $59,000 for a family of four.

According to the most recent Yearbook on early education data, released by The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Michigan currently ranks 22nd in the nation in the percentage of 4-year-olds with access to pre-school services. Nineteen percent of 4-year-olds in the state are enrolled in the state’s pre-k system, a figure that has not changed since NIEER began keeping records of pre-k access in 2002.

Before this latest increase, Michigan already ranked in the top 15 states in the nation in the total state spending for early education. Michigan will almost certainly move higher in state rankings with the expanded funding.

According to news reports, Snyder, who is expected to sign the 2013-14 school spending plan soon, kicked off a conference of business and political leaders last week by saying he was "really proud" of the agreement to emphasize early learning in the budget.

"It's about time," he said. "Over the next two years we're going to get rid of the waiting list for kids in the state of Michigan to say they can have preschool now."