What is the difference between Head Start and Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP)?

Both preschool programs provide an excellent opportunity for children to learn in a safe, encouraging environment. Both 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 to three year-olds. Most children placed in a Head Start classroom have a family income below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) is only available to four year-old children. Eligibility for GSRP requires that family income is below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level with priority given to children based on family income. If all income eligible families are placed and additional seats are still available, children whose families income is over 300% of the Federal Poverty Level may be able attend if a tuition is paid before the child attends classes.

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What is the age eligibiliy for Head Start and GSRP?

Four-year-old programs - Children must be 4 between September 2nd of the prior year and September 1st of the current year, to be eligible for a four-year-old Head Start program and/or the GSRP Program. If an age waiver is offered by the State for these programs (yearly decision made by the State) this would also allow children who are four between September 2nd of the current year and December 1st of the current year.

Three year old programing - Children must be 3 to be eligible for a three-year-old head start program. Openings are limited. Contact Head Start at 616-453-4145 ext 4010 for more information.

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What are the income requirements for Head Start and the Great Start Programs?

Head Start Eligibility - To qualify for the Head Start program families gross income (before taxes) must be between 0% - 100% of the FPL.

To qualify for the GSRP program families gross income (before taxes) must be between 0% - 300% of the FPL. GSRP Income Guidelines 2023-2024. If all income eligible families are placed and additional seats are still available children whose families are over 250% of the FPL may be able attend if a tuition is paid before the child attends classes.

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What counts as income?

You will need to provide income documents for everyone who contributes to the household income.

Income may include the following

  • Wages or salary from a job
  • Money earned from self-employment
  • Retirement or disability payments
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Alimony
  • Child support
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When I complete the application, does that mean my child will be enrolled?

Completing an application does not guarantee enrollment in a program. The online application is the first step in the process to applying for preschool. It helps us connect you with the program that you feel is best for your family. After completing the application, you may still need to provide income, additional information to verify eligibility, and complete the enrollment process. Priority for enrollment is based on family income and additional life experiences.

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How soon can I complete a preschool application?

We open preschool intake in early March for the following school year. Please go to https://preschool.kentisd.org/Apply to complete an application.

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I filled out an application early. Does that mean I am more likely to get in?

While it is a good idea to fill out your on line application and send in all the required documents as soon as possible, it generally does not impact the chances of your child getting into a particular program. Decisions to accept students are made based primarily on family income and additional life experiences.

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How do I check the status of my child's application?

You can check the status of your application by entering your tracking number at https://preschool.kentisd.org. Your child’s tracking number is included in the confirmation email you receive when you complete your child’s online application. If you need help locating your child’s tracking number please email KCPI@kentisd.org.

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How do I make changes to my child's application?

To make changes to your child's application, please DO NOT complete an additional application. If you would like to update or change any information on a current application please email KCPI@kentisd.org.

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How are children selected for the preschool programs?

Tuition free programs are required to follow prioritization guidelines when enrolling children into State and Federally Funded Pre-K Programs. Eligibility is primarily based on family income (federal poverty level), life experiences and child's age.

Head Start and Great Start Readiness programs are federally funded or funded by the Michigan Department of Education and have a defined list of eligibility factors. Preschool applications are reviewed for Head Start eligibility first. Each child must qualify for the preschool program based on guidelines that include income verification and documentation of other school readiness risk factors.


  1. Children who meet the current age entry date (September 1), whose family income is between 0-100% federal poverty level (FPL), or meets one of the established categorical eligibility criteria (homeless, foster care or IEP specifying Pre-K enrollment).
  2. Children who meet the current age entry date and whose family’s income is between 0%-300% FPL.
  3. Children who meet the current age entry date, whose family income is over 300% fpl and will pay tuition to participate only if seats are still available.
  4. Children who are in the age gap entry date of September 2 to December 1 whose family income is between 0%-300% FPL.
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What curriculums are used in the preschool programs?

All programs use evidence-based early childhood curriculums as approved by the Michigan Department of Education and the office of Head Start. These include:

Additional curriculums may be used as approved by Michigan Department of Education on an individual basis

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What is the adult to child ratio?

Programs use the State of Michigan child care licensing ratios. Head Start and GSRP have a minimum of one adult to eight children. No classroom may exceed 18 children. Tuition programs may differ.

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Where can I find additional information on before/after school care and transportation?

Visit Site Map. Here you will find information on before- and after-school care, transportation options, locations and contact information for each of the Head Start or Great Start Readiness program sites within the Kent ISD service area.

Please note that transportation is only available to families who met residential requirements. To see if your family qualifies for transportation to the site you are interested in, please call the site’s transportation team directly at

Please note that all before and/or after care is provided by the site, not by the GSRP program and may require additional cost. To ensure you site has openings please contact your site directly at

  • Appletree (Monroe) = (616) 552-8606
  • Appletree (Walker East) = (616) 481-3811
  • Appletree (Walker West) = (616) 735-4600
  • Cedar Springs Red Hawk Elementary = (616) 969-1716
  • Childtime (Byron Center) = (616) 583-1888
  • Childtime (East Paris) = (616) 975-1955
  • Childtime (Kentwood) = (616) 656-0300
  • Grand Rapids Christiran Evergreen Campus = (616) 574-5900
  • Grand Rapids Early Discovery (Malaguzzi) = (616) 426-3419
  • Grandville Early Learning Center = (616) 254-6380
  • Grandville East Elementary = (616) 254-6080
  • Kenowa Hills Early Childhood Center = (616) 262-6724
  • Kent City Elementary = (616) 678-4181
  • Kiddie Academy = (616) 500-0777
  • Over Achivers Academp = (616) 930-3754
  • Sparta Early Childhood Center = (616) 887-0068
  • The Village Learning Center = (616) 358-2338
  • Tutor Time (Grand Ridge) = (616) 363-1184
  • Tutor Time (old 28th Street) = (616) 942-2124
  • Wyoming Early Learning Center = (616) 257-8477
  • YMCA (DDH) = (616) 885-5525
  • YMCA (Jacquline Baber-Bey) = (616) 885-5525
  • YMCA (River City) = (616) 885-5525
  • YMCA (Spartan Nash) = (616) 885-5525
  • YMCA (Visser) = (616) 885-5525
  • YMCA (Yankee Clipper) = (616) 885-5525
  • Baxter Community Center = chess@baxtercommunitycenter.org
  • GRCC Phyllis Fratzke Early Childhood Lab = (616) 234-4004
  • Mommy Recharge = (616) 724-4366
  • New Branches Charter Academy = (616) 243-6221
  • Plainfield Child Care = (616) 202-4020
  • United Methodist Community House = (616) 452-3226
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How can I schedule a tour of a potential preschool program for my child?

Please visit the program websites you are interested in touring for their policy on tours.

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What would my child be doing all day?

Click here for a sample full day schedule
Click here for a sample half day schedule

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What is an IEP?

The Individualized Education Program, often called the IEP, is a legal document under United States law that is developed for each public school child in the U.S. who needs special education.

If you believe your child may be in need of specialized services please contact Help me grow of Kent County. Help Me Grow

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