Birth to five preschool services in Calhoun County, Michigan.

Head Start & GSRP: What's the Difference?

Head Start and GSRP (Great Start Readiness Program) are two government-supported programs that provide free or low-cost preschool services for families, including eligible families in our local area. Here's a quick look at what they do and how they differ:

Head Start is a preschool program for parents that is funded by the federal government. It provides quality preschool services at various locations in our area for families that earn up to 100% of the federal poverty level in terms of annual income. Locally, Head Start is operated by Community Action. (Community Action Facebook Page)

GSRP (also known as Great Start Readiness Program) is a state-funded program for families who make up to 250% of the federal poverty level in terms of annual income. Locally, GSRP is administered by the Great Start to Readiness Program within the Calhoun County Intermediate School District. 

Other important differences: Head Start is a comprehensive preschool program that also provides access to oral and physical health services, and social services. Every Head Start program has a health manager, often a nurse, to complete any missing components of the required physical exam. Head Start also conducts screenings and provides follow-up with nutrition, socialization, and mental health counseling. 

GSRP is a 4 day per week classroom-based experience which begins the third week of September and continues through mid-May. It helps to prepare children for kindergarten. At least 90% of children in GSRP programs across the county must live in families with income at or below 250% of the poverty level. GSRP help children get ready for school, increases attendance and reduces the number of children who repeat a grade by almost one-half. GSRP classrooms use the HighScope curriculum. Most of our GSRP classrooms are school day but a few part-day classrooms are available.

To find out which on may be right for you, call (269) 660-1606 to get started, 
or explore the other pages on this website (see links below). Welcome!

"My daughter is too smart to stay home all day. I'm so glad I applied for this program. There's no way I could have afforded it on our own."

Single Mom, Battle Creek


"Preschool is really, really important for my kids, but it's getting harder and harder to afford. I'm just so happy we heard about these two programs."

Dad, Calhoun County, MI


"I always knew about Head Start, but honestly I had never heard about GSRP -- the newer program. Now we qualify for preschool tuition benefits even though we didn't qualify before. Thanks for getting the word out! "

Mom, Bedford Township


"My child is a little sponge - she's constantly picking things up. Without preschool, there's no way I could have given her all the attention she needs in terms of learning new things. There's no substitute for preschool, in my opinion."

Dad, Battle Creek


"As working parent, I don't have a lot of extra time. The new preschool application process is a whole lot easier. Plus I can find out exactly what I need in advance. Thanks for making my life a whole lot easier!"


Busy Mom, Battle Creek


"If you love your little child or grandchild, you just gotta get them into preschool. And now, with all these tuition benefits, there's no reason to wait anymore."


Grandmother, Battle Creek