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Early Learning Coalition
In 2000, Escambia County created a local school readiness coalition under the guidance and direction of community leaders who saw a vision for Escambia’s children. As a result, the strengths of multiple programs have blended into a system that meets the needs of working families, the needs of school readiness for young children and the needs of a growing business economy to create a literate workforce. Children who enter school prepared to learn have the best chance of completing their education with the necessary competencies to become productive citizens.
A constitutional amendment passed by Florida’s voters in Nov. 2002 required a voluntary prekindergarten program for all four-year-old children by fall 2005. House Bill 1-A was signed into law by Governor Bush on January 2, 2005, creating a program designed to prepare four-year-olds for kindergarten and build the foundation for their educational success. The program allows a parent to enroll his or her eligible child (four years old by September 1 and residing in Florida) in a free VPK program. The program is voluntary for children and providers.
The first VPK classes began in the 2005-2006 school year. Public, private, and faith-based providers may be eligible to deliver the program depending on whether they meet the minimum standards required in law.
The first summer VPK program was offered in 2006. Children may participate in the summer VPK program the summer immediately before the school year for which the child is eligible for kindergarten.
We are able to reach our goals with the support of the local early education community which includes: Childcare Centers, Pre-Kindergarten programs, Head Start, Family Child Care Homes, and Faith-based providers.