Voluntary Pre-kindergarten (VPK)
VPK prepares four-year-old children for kindergarten through quality programs that include high literacy standards, accountability, appropriate curricula, substantial instructional periods, manageable class sizes and quality instructors. The Coalition certifies all VPK providers.
There is no charge to parents for the VPK instructional hours, and the parent chooses the provider that the child is to attend. The number of instructional hours and the specific times per day varies by provider.
VPK classes may begin at the start of the school year, in January and a condensed summer session, depending on location. In Marion County, school-year VPK classes are provided through licensed private and faith-based centers, licensed family child care homes, as well as several public elementary school sites. The summer classes are available predominately through public elementary school sites as well as several private child care sites. Registration is through the Coalition office. Staff will provide parents with a list of certified VPK providers to choose from.
To find a VPK Provider, Click on these links:
Recent Changes in VPK Eligibility
Background: A new law extends VPK eligibility for 4-year-olds with birthdays from Feb. 2 through Sept. 1 in a calendar year. Parents can enroll their child in the state’s free, voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) education program that year or wait until the following year when their child is 5.
The law allows parents of younger 4-year-olds to postpone the year their child begins VPK, enabling the child to begin kindergarten and start first grade as a slightly older, more mature student. Children in Florida are not required to attend either the state’s prekindergarten or kindergarten programs, but are required to attend school the year they turn 6 by Feb. 1.
The new law takes effect July 1. Four- year -old children with birthdays from Feb. 2 through Sept. 1 will be eligible to enroll in VPK that year or postpone it to the next. Four -year -olds with birthdays from Sept. 2 through Feb. 1 are eligible to enroll in VPK the following program year.
Questions and Answers
Q. How do I know what year(s) my child may be eligible?
A. The year(s) is based on your child’s birthdate.
Q. Can my child attend VPK for two years?
A. No. Each child is eligible for one student voucher. Some families will have a choice of sending their child to VPK in one year or another based on the child’s birthdate.
Q. Why can’t all parents have the option to choose the year their child attends VPK?
A. Florida law requires children to attend school the year that the child is 6 by Feb. 1. Not all children would be able to go to VPK a year later because they would turn 6 by Feb. 1.
Q. How do I defer my child’s eligibility for 2017-18?
A. The online system where families enroll for VPK (called the Family Portal) will be updated July 1, 2016, when the new law takes effect.
Q. When can I begin VPK registration for 2017-18?
A. Jan. 1, 2017, in the Family Portal.
Q. What happens if my child is already enrolled for the 2016-17 program year and I want to send my child to the 2017-18 program instead?
A. You may reapply for the 2017-18 program beginning Jan. 1, 2017, as long as you did not use your voucher for the 2016-17 program.
You will find more information about VPK at www.floridaearlylearning.com