Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When I complete the application, does that mean my child will be enrolled?
A: No, the application form is step one for applying. The information you submitted will be reviewed. If your income appears to make your child Head Start eligible, your information will be shared with them. You will then need to work with the staff to provide the additional information to see if you qualify.
Q: When will I know for sure if my child has a slot in a classroom?
A: Both Head Start and GSRP have defined processes and timelines for assigning slots to children. Neither program will assign a child until eligibility is verified, so working with the staff to provide requested documentation will help ready your application for final consideration. We understand it can be frustrating to wait, but grant requirements must be followed. NOTE: GSRP services are not fully offered until final legislative approval of funding and eligibility is completed. Prior to that time, you may receive a “pending enrollment” notification if your child’s eligibility has been verified.
Q: I filled out my interest form early. Does that mean I am more likely to get in?
A: The process is not a “first come-first served” model. Decisions to accept students are made based primarily on family income. GSRP assignment of slots does not begin until June, so waiting to apply and submit your verification documents may limit the number of slots left open.
Q: How are children selected for the preschool programs?
A: Eligibility is primarily based on family income (Federal Poverty Level) and child’s age. Head Start (federally funded) and GSRP (State of Michigan funded) grants spell out the rules and guidelines each program must use for enrolling children.
Q: What is the difference between Head Start and Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP)?
A: The primary difference is our funding sources, which give us the guidelines for eligibility and services. Both preschool programs are focused on giving children the best classroom experience possible to prepare them for kindergarten.
Head Start is a program that provides additional support for families beyond the classroom. The program works closely with families to help enhance the child’s overall health and nutrition and help parents with their child’s mental, social, and emotional needs. While Head Start gives priority for enrollment to four year-old children, some classrooms are available for three year-olds. Almost all Head Start families must have income below 100% of the federal poverty guidelines.
Great Start Readiness Program is only available to four year old children. Eligibility for GSRP requires that family income be below 250% of the federal poverty guidelines with priority given to children based on family income.
Q: Do families get to decide which program their child attends?
A: All children who are Head Start income eligible will be automatically forwarded to Head Start for their initial process. Families will be able to discuss with Head Start the opportunities and options the program offers. Following the discussion, families choosing to decline Head Start services will have their names forwarded to GSRP and will be considered for GSRP placement.
Q: If my child does not qualify for FREE Head Start or GSRP preschool, are there fee-based programs available?
A: Yes, you can contact Southwest Child Care Resources at (269) 349-3296 or go online to search for programs at www.greatstarttoquality.org. This is Michigan’s system for licensed childcare, including those offering preschool services.
FOR GSRP ELIGIBLE CHILDREN
Q: Do families get to decide which local school GSRP their child attends?
A: GSRP programs families may request to attend any classroom within the district. Transportation service is limited to the school district’s bus routes, but families may provide their own transportation.
Q: In GSRP, are children able to attend across ISD/RESA boundaries?
A: Van Buren ISD enters into agreements with our bordering districts (Berrien RESA, Allegan AESA, Kalamazoo RESA, and Lewis Cass ISD). Transportation and special education services will not be provided across district lines.
Q: Does my preschooler need to be potty trained?
A: Children not fully potty trained may still enroll. We will work with you to establish a plan to support them in learning. Ideally we would like to discuss this prior to their starting, so please contact us at (269) 539-5214 and request to discuss the matter with the director.
Q: What curriculum is used in GSRP?
A: GSRP programs in Van Buren use the High Scope Preschool Curriculum (www.highscope.org). Our staff are trained and receive ongoing support from an Early Childhood Specialist.
Contact Phone Numbers
Great Start Readiness Programs: (269) 539-5214
Tri-County Head Start (Van Buren County): (269) 657-2581
Community Action Allegan County Head Start: (269) 673-5472
Kalamazoo RESA Head Start: (269) 250-9845