The Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida (ELCNWF) wants to remind parents that registration for the Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program for the 2021-22 school year is currently open. VPK is a free, state-funded program that prepares 4-year-olds for kindergarten and beyond. Guided by the Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards for 4-year-olds, the program provides developmentally appropriate activities in literacy, language, science, social studies, math, health and safety, art, and music.
VPK is offered through approved private licensed child care centers, licensed family child care homes, faith-based providers, public and private schools. The program gives families two choices to participate: a 540 instructional hour school year program or a 300-hour summer program. (If a child did not attend a VPK program during the 2020-2021 school year and will be attending kindergarten this fall, he or she may qualify to attend a summer VPK program).
“With summer right around the corner, we know that it can be a busy time for families”, says Suzan Gage, Executive Director of the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida. “That is why we encourage parents to begin the VPK enrollment process now to secure their spot for the Fall and be ready to begin this exciting time in their child’s life.”
To be eligible, children must live in Florida and be 4 years of age on or before September 1st of the school year in which they are enrolling. Additionally, parents whose children were born between February 2nd and September 1st of the calendar year can choose to postpone enrolling their 4-year-old until the following year when their child is 5.
Parents who wish to register their child for VPK need to first visit Florida’s Early Learning Family Portal where they will create an account and complete the application process. Upon approval of the application, parents will receive a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) that will need to be taken to the VPK facility of their choice for enrollment. Parents can locate a VPK provider in their County by accessing the VPK Provider Profiles for Northwest Florida supplied by ELCNWF.
Many VPK programs, both through schools and private child care facilities, are enrolling students now for the 2021-22 school year. Additionally, School District VPK providers may have their own registration process in addition to the COE application. If parents determine they would like to select a School District location, they should contact their local District for more information.
For more information or assistance with applying for VPK in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, or Washington County, contact the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida at 850-747- 5400 or elcnwf.org.