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Free full-day sessions offered for Young 4s

August 14, 2013 - Due to additional state funding Oxford Early Learning Center (OELC) is expanding their Young 4s, also known as the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), to include free full-day sessions.

"We've been given a unique opportunity from the state to grow the program and our number of slots in the program," said Dr. James Schwarz, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. "Those opportunities don't happen very often."

Prior to this upcoming year, OELC had participated in the GSRP half-day program that included a morning and afternoon session, which will still be available to those who only want to their children to go half-day.

While the program is free, it does come with some qualifications. A student must be a resident of Oakland County, must be four not five-years-old on or before Dec. 1 of current school year and documentation of educational risk factors. Examples are diagnosed disability or developmental delay, severe or challenging behavior, primary home language other than English and abuse/neglect of child or parent and environmental risk.

Director of OELC Washea Jackson said going all day will allow them to serve the same number of children they have had in the past half day sessions and more. Instead of just having a classroom of 16 kids in the morning and 16 kids in the afternoon, Jackson said full day will open up three slots of 16 kids each with two teachers per classroom, which will create a 1-to-8 ratio.

"The ratio is fantastic. You can't beat that," she said. "That within itself is awesome."

As far as the state funding goes, Jackson said they receive roughly $3,776 per GSRP slot which is equates to a full-time-equivalency (FTE) of around $7,300 per pupil.

"It's the same funding you receive K-12," she said. "We follow the same curriculum as other early childhood programs. The teachers are certified teachers, specializing in early childhood education."

"It's the highest quality of early childhood that you could possibly get," continued Jackson. "The program is monitored through the state of Michigan with the quality rating system."

Schwarz noted that more and more pre-K programs going full-day in a developing trend. Much like when kindergarten went from half-days to full-days.

"I think by and large, developmentally they (the kids) can handle a full-day schedule with those kinds of transitions that are embedded into the program such as nap-times or free-choice activity times play," he added. "Frankly (it has) become a demand from parents. Typically more and more we have two parent working households and so they're looking for a full-day environment to place their kids while they work; it helps accommodate that, too."

Jackson said they have had a great response from parents.

"We did a survey of parents with kids both in Head Start, which is half-day and the half-day GSRP program. The poll showed they were very interested," she added. "I think it's going to be an awesome school year and parents are going to really benefit from this."

For more information visit oxfordschools.org and click on the link for Oxford Early Learning Center. To enroll your child call OELC at (248) 969-5035

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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