Measuring Indirect Economic Benefits of Low-Income Families’ Access to Preschool Programs


November 7, 2022 - Author: Steven R. Miller; Jamie Wu; Teresa Herbowicz

Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is charged with managing the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), designed to help 4-year-old children with an elevated risk of educational delays due to family poverty, abuse, disability, and other factors. MDE has partnered with Michigan State University (MSU) to collect data and conduct various statewide evaluations of GSRP. In 2022, a new assessment was created to evaluate attitudes of parents of children attending the GSRP, especially about the impact of the program on their household finances during the Covid-19 pandemic. The survey effort was called The 2021-22 GSRP Family Financial Impact Survey. Program evaluators had to overcome several challenges in administering this survey, including reaching the targeted populations and addressing extracting useful information about indirect financial benefits associated with participating in this early childhood education program. In particular, the lack of direct access to contact information of parents/guardians of children in the GSRP by the evaluation team posed a significant challenge to evaluators. This report discusses the strategy and approach used by the MSU team of evaluators and MDE for reaching the target population and for designing a survey instrument that applicable for this challenging population and task. 


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