Are you a first-time mom or new mom to Florida and the education system? Get ready, the Florida system loves acronyms! Let’s start with our little ones (Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program) or VPK, VPK is a FREE educational program that prepares four-year-olds for kindergarten and beyond. Children must live in Florida and be four on or before September 1st of the school year they plan on enrolling. The Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten education program is designed to prepare parents and children for kindergarten and develop their skills to become successful students. Florida’s VPK program is a state funding program in which the state of Florida has allocated funds to assist Florida families with the cost of childcare. Parents can choose from private child care centers or public schools and school-year or summer programs. Out of my three children, I had one that started in the am for speech class and moved to the all-day class in the public-school system. I used the Summer VPK Program for the same child. For my other child, I used the 10-month program. You have the flexibility to choose what suits your child and family needs. In a private school, there are a variety of choices such as the private schools that are in a church (faith-based) or community center. Mine went to the JCC Center were they offer kids yoga and cooking classes as well.
A list of all the schools can be found here.
There are three types of VPK: Private, Public and Montessori Style VPK. I encourage you to take a tour of each and see what would be the best fit for your family. If your child qualifies for the public system, I would utilize them first. Besides the tour, most offer the opportunity to meet with some of the teachers at different times throughout the year.
Registration began Jan 2 for the 2019-2020 school year and there is no fee to register for the VPK program. You will need to create a user name/password for the portal and have a valid email address to complete the VPK Certification of Eligibility. Requirements are proof of residency and proof of your child’s age (original birth certificate or passport). Both can be uploaded online to complete the application.
First steps first, you must Register:
Registration begins with the online application, get started here.
The time to register is NOW!
Here are a few other programs that Broward county offers if you qualify:
Early Head Start – Pregnant women and children birth – two-years-old. Family income must meet federal poverty guidelines.
Children with disabilities, who meet all other requirements, are welcome to apply.
Also, there is a headstart program for parents that have to go back to work, you can find the early requirements at Head Start Broward Schools.
Early Head Start (EHS) is a federally-funded program that provides free educational and support services to children from birth to three-years old from low income families, including homeless, foster care, and students with disabilities. EHS targets the entire family but the support is tailored for pregnant moms, infants, and toddlers up to age three. Participating children will transition from EHS into the Head Start preschool classrooms, then directly into Kindergarten. To learn more about Early Head Start eligibility and enrollment, please visit the Head Start/Early Intervention website.
Head Start (HS) is a federally-funded program that provides free educational and support services to children from three- to four-years old from low income families, including homeless, foster care, and students with disabilities. The Head Start program provides free, comprehensive services to low-income families and their children. The Head Start program targets the entire family and the services include high-quality classroom instruction, health and developmental screenings, family engagement and goal setting. They provide a full school-day of instruction in a classroom with typically developing students and students with disabilities. Head Start three- and four-year old integrated programs are available at selected schools. To learn more about Head Start eligibility and enrollment, please visit the Head Start/Early Intervention
Preschool Exceptional Student Learning Support (Preschool ESLS). Opportunities are available for preschoolers with disabilities whose educational needs can be appropriately served in the general education setting with minor support. Determination for enrollment is made by a multi-disciplinary team, including the parents. Preschool ESLS programs are available at selected schools.
Parents/Guardians of a child birth – age five that have an educational concern or suspect that their child may have a disability should contact the Florida Diagnostic Learning Resource Services (FDLRS)/Child Find at 754-321-7200.
Broward County has a lot of information that you can access online as well as at one of our many Broward County Libraries. I hope this helps you and your family determine what services are best for your family. VPK helped all of my kids prepare for kindergarten and learn social skills to help them succeed in life. Now you’re ready, set VPK!