3-Year-Old Pilot Preschool

Win for Kent County’s Children

Kent County has been funded to conduct a three-year research project to determine the benefits of having an additional year of preschool for early childhood. The funding is a result of advocacy efforts from local groups including the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative (ELNC).

This program is based on research that shows children, who attend a high-quality preschool for two years prior to kindergarten, have substantial positive developmental outcomes when compared to their peers who attended a high-quality program for only one year.

Success of this pilot would mean that more 3-year-olds in Kent County would be able to benefit from this quality early childhood education. Currently, the only funding available for 3-year-old early learning programs in Kent County is through Head Start and a Child Care Subsidy. There are strict income requirements for both programs.

“This is a huge win for Kent County’s youngest children,” said Annemarie Valdez, President of First Steps Kent. “We are so grateful to ELNC for their dedicated efforts toward this goal.”

This new pilot is offered by the Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency, under the direction of the Michigan Department of Education, and the Office of Great Start.

For the pilot, each Intermediate Student District (ISD) can request up to three classrooms. Kent ISD is applying for funds and ELNC is partnering with them as well as Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP).

A bit of history

Dr. Ezeh, ELNC Founder and CEO, led an advocacy effort for 3-year-old preschool. In 2016, ELNC was awarded funding to initiate a 3-year-old pilot program that included an evaluation by High Scope, an early childhood education research organization. The final report was very positive and suggested that an additional year of preschool for children made financial sense.

The research leading up to this decision included ELNC, in partnership with High Scope, conducting their own pilot and successfully demonstrating that there was a cost benefit for preschool for 3-year-olds.

“We are so proud to see that as a direct result of our work this pilot project is happening,” said Dr. Ezeh, ELNC Founder and CEO. “This moment is why I do what I do for vulnerable children.”

The next steps

All who are interested should continue to voice their support about this program to their local representatives. Families who have a 3-year-old child can call Kent ISD or ELNC to indicate their interest in enrolling their child. Applications for partners to become one of the classrooms should be directed to this website.

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