Free & Low Cost Quality Care

Many children in Michigan qualify for high quality child care and preschool at free or reduced cost. Learn more here about available programs and if you qualify.


Head Start/Early Head Start

Head Start/Early Head Start
Ages: 3-5 for Head Start;  0-3 for Early Head Start
Funding: Federal
Eligibility: Families living at poverty level, $19,090 a year for a family of three, may qualify

Head Start is a free federal program promoting the school readiness of children ages 3-5 from low-income families. The program provides comprehensive and high quality education, health, nutrition, and social services to enrolled children and families.


Early Head Start is a federally funded community-based program for low-income pregnant women and children from birth to age 3. The program seeks to promote healthy prenatal outcomes, enhance development of young children and promote healthy family functioning.


In Michigan, Head Start and Early Head Start serve approximately 38,000 children and their families annually. Programs are administered locally by Community Action Agencies, nonprofit organizations and local education agencies such as Intermediate School Districts.



Great Start Readiness Program

Great Start Readiness Program
Age: 4 
Funding: State
Eligibility: At least three-quarters of the children enrolled must be from families with incomes below 300% of  poverty. Children in families living below 200% of poverty qualify if they are not eligible for Head Start.

Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program is a free state-funded preschool serving at-risk and low-income four-year-olds. The program expands access to preschool for children in families who don’t qualify for Head Start or those without access because of too few available and funded Head Start slots.


Each year, more than 32,000 students are provided with age-appropriate curriculum, nutritional services, health screenings, referral services for parents to community social services, and plans for parental involvement. Great Start Readiness Program funding is allocated to both school districts and competitive community-based programs.


Child Development and Care Program

CDC Program
Funding: State
Eligibility: Income eligibility is roughly 136% of the federal poverty level for a family of three, or $1,990 gross monthly income. This family would need to spend one-quarter of gross income on the average monthly cost of full-time child care ($527). The average family using the subsidy has two children in care.

Michigan’s Child Development and Care Program provides supplemental child care payments enabling low-income parents to work. The subsidy can be used to purchase regulated child care in a center, group child care or a family home, or unlicensed care in the home of a relative or by an adult in the child’s home.


Maximum payments, which are based on location, type of provider, and age of child, range from a high of $3.75 an hour for an infant or toddler in a center, to a low of $1.35 for unlicensed care, no matter the age of the child.





Persons in Family 100% Poverty 130% Poverty
1 $11,170 $14,521
2 $15,130 $19,669
3 $19,090 $24,817
4 $23,050 $29,965
5 $27,010 $35,113
6 $30,970 $40,261
7 $34,930 $45,409
8 $38,890 $50,557
9 $42,850 $55,705
10 $46,810 $60,853