FREE Preschool

A Parents Guide To Preschool

Success Starts Early - Preschool Can Help

High-quality preschool is available in Muskegon and Oceana County for families at more than 20 locations in district buildings and community-based organizations. Placement is prioritized based on income and preschool can be FREE for many families. Other factors like special needs, foster care and high risk are also considered for placement. Classes run Monday-Thursday during the school year (times vary by center) with full-day and half-day options available.

Want to Learn About Preschool Options?

If you are pregnant and/or have children of ages 0-5, you've come to the right place!  By submitting an interest form, we can help you find the best possible program for your family. This is not an application and completing this form does not guarantee placement. Once we receive your information, an enrollment team member will contact you within 5 business days.

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Head Start

Head Start is a free program for low-income families with children ages 3 to 4 years old.  We partner with parents to help ensure their children's basic needs are met so they have the freedom to learn, interact with peers and grow intellectually. 

Head Start applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria to be eligible for services:

  • Be age three or four as of December 1st of the school year
  • Family income must be at or below the Federal Income Guideline* 


  • Family is receiving public assistance (SNAP, TANF, SSI disability)
  • The child is in foster care
  • The family is homeless
  • The child has a diagnosed disability

*What are the Federal Income Guidelines for Head Start?

Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP)

GSRP is a state-funded preschool for children who are 4 years old. Eligibility is tied to family income* and available openings.  Typically GSRP is free to most participating families, but depending on family income level, some parents may be required to pay a reduced tuition fee.

*What are the Federal Income Guidelines for GSRP?

What is the Difference Between Head Start and 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 children’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 income level.

GSRP is only available to four year old children.  Eligibility for GSRP requires that family income is below 300% of the federal income 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 family income is over 300% of the federal income level may be able to attend if a tuition is paid before the child attends classes.

Apply Now!

Applications are accepted year-round. To enroll for Head Start or GSRP please contact the enrollment specialist at the location you prefer:

  • Buttons & Bows (Whitehall) - GSRP only, (231) 766-1576
  • Discovery School (Reeths Puffer & Whitehall)GSRP only, (231) 893-0088
  • Explorers Learning Cente(Roosevelt Park) - GSRP only, (231) 747-7175
  • Fruitport Community Schools (231) 865-2497
  • Hart Public Schools (231) 873-6330
  • Holton Public Schools (231) 893-1091
  • Mona Shores Public Schools (231) 865-2497
  • Montague Area Public Schools (231) 893-1091
  • Muskegon Heights (231) 830-3252
  • Muskegon Montessori (Norton Shores) - GSRP only, (231) 766-7500
  • Muskegon Public Schools (231) 720-2540
  • Oakridge Public Schools - GSRP only, (231) 788-7304
  • Orchard View Public Schools (231) 760-1787
  • Ravenna Public Schools (231) 760-1787
  • Reeths Puffer Schools (231) 893-1091 or (231) 766-3443
  • Shelby Public Schools (231) 861-6629
  • Three Oaks Public School Academy (Muskegon)- GSRP only, (231) 767-3365
  • Whitehall District Schools (231) 893-1091
  • Winter Sun (North Muskegon) - GSRP only, (231) 414-8414

We Need Proof!

These programs are state or federally funded and require proof.  The parent/guardian will need the following documents to complete the enrollment process:

  • Proof of income - most recent W-2 or 1040, pay stubs, unemployment documentation, or public assistance benefits (copy of SNAP card or proof of TANF or SSI disability)
  • Proof of birth - birth certificate 

Programs may require these additional documents; however they are not required to apply:

  • Proof of residency - driver's license, vehicle title or registration, utility bill (with name, address and date shown), mortgage/lease agreement
  • Current immunization record
  • Health insurance card
  • Recent physical (within one year)
  • Dental examination documentation (within 6 months)

Still Need Some Guidance?

If you would like more information or have any questions regarding the application, enrollment and/or placement process, visit our website or call (231) 767-8300.