Great Start Readiness Program, Michigan’s free preschool program for low-income 4-year-olds, is nationally renowned for its high quality instruction.

But it has some gaps. Classes run only four days a week, forcing working parents to find child care on the fifth day.

Some advocates say Michigan officials could improve GSRP and strengthen the state’s entire early childhood education system by allowing licensed, home-based providers to offer the program. These providers use a range of funding sources and typically keep long hours.

So far, the answer is no. State leaders question whether home-based providers can meet GSRP’s quality standards, especially for teacher credentials and child-staff ratios.

“These particular benchmarks tend to be challenges for home-based providers trying to deliver state-funded preschool,” said Martin Ackley, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education.

Some home-based providers disagree. More than 1,200 licensed, home-based child care programs in Michigan — about one-third of the total — have received a quality rating of at least 3 out of 5 stars from the state.

“Quality care isn’t just inside a center,” said Kai Young, a licensed provider who operates Squiggles & Giggles Child Care out of her home in Detroit.

Young has been in business for 29 years, and her program has a perfect 5-star rating from the state. She says she would welcome GSRP funding: Most of her students leave for GSRP programs when they turn 4.

Read the full article about early childhood education system by Koby Levin at Chalkbeat Detroit.