The Dearborn Public Schools’ free preschool program still has some slots available for the 2023-24 school year and is planning an enrollment event on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at Cotter Early Childhood Center and Salina Elementary.
The Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) is offered at 15 locations around the district although a few schools are already full. The state-sponsored program is free to families who qualify.
To be eligible, children need to be turning four years old by Dec. 1, 2023. Preference will be given to students who will be four by Sept. 1, 2023 because those students will qualify for kindergarten the following year. However, if space is available, the program also will accept students with birthdays between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1.
Interested families are encouraged to call Cotter School at (313) 827-6150 to set up an appointment to come in and complete enrollment paperwork on Sept. 6. Walk-ins will also be accepted on Sept. 6. Visit the Cotter School webpage to learn more, including what documents are needed for enrollment.
GSRP classes start in mid September.
Student acceptance into the program is prioritized based on family income and other eligibility factors that put students at-risk of struggling in school. This summer the state raised the income guidelines for this school year to 300 percent of poverty level. That means a family of four earning up to $90,000 a year would qualify for GSRP. In addition to family income, at-risk factors can include families who speak a language other than English at home, and a parent or parents with low educational achievement, among other factors. This year GSRP will take applications for all students who are eligible based solely on their age. The district will then accept students prioritized by need and available spots. To apply, students must live with a parent or legal guardian within the Dearborn Public School District.
Dearborn has 624 slots for GSRP students. Spots are still available at Cotter Early Childhood Center, Becker Elementary, DuVall Elementary, Henry Ford Elementary, Long Elementary, McCollough-Unis School, McDonald Elementary, Oakman Elementary, River Oaks Elementary, Salina Elementary, Salina Intermediate and Whitmore Bolles Elementary.
GSRP classes are generally 16 students with two adults, including a certified early childhood specialist. Classes meet for a full school day from Monday through Thursday. Times vary slightly by building, but are similar to the elementary school schedule. The program meets detailed state requirements using the Highscope Curriculum for how and what students learn.
“We focus on kindergarten readiness. Our emphasis is on student social/emotional readiness for school,” said Amy Modica, the district’s Early Childhood Coordinator. In addition to learning academics like letters and colors, GSRP students learn how to get along with other children, how to take care of themselves, and other skills they will need to thrive in kindergarten.
“We strongly encourage interested families to call and learn more and to fill out an application,” Ms. Modica said. To learn more, parents can call Cotter School at 313-827-6150.