Florida VPK, or Voluntary Prekindergarten, is a free educational program that gives children a jumpstart for school by preparing them for kindergarten. VPK is for all 4-year-olds living in Florida. It helps them develop the skills they need to become good readers and successful students.
Why is Florida VPK Important?
Research shows that children who participate in high-quality prekindergarten programs are:
- Better prepared for school
- Perform better on standardized tests
- Have better attendance rates
- Develop lifelong social and emotional skills
- More likely to graduate from high school and be successful
While enrolled in VPK, parents can expect their children to learn pre-reading and writing skills, language and phonological awareness, and social-emotional skills, such as sharing, as well as the ability to be attentive and follow directions.
Who is Eligible in 2021?
To be eligible, the child must reside in Florida and be four years old on or before September 1, 2021.
- If your child was born between September 2nd, 2016 and September 1st, 2017, your child is eligible for the 2021-2022 School Year VPK program.
- If your child was born between September 2nd, 2015 and September 1st, 2016, your child is eligible for this current VPK summer program (more information below).
How to Apply for Florida VPK
Applying for the Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program is easy! You can apply online from a computer, mobile phone, or other digital device. Along with a valid email address, the following documents are required to prove a child’s age and residency:
- Proof of child’s age: (One of the following)
- An original or certified copy of the child’s birth record filed according to law with the appropriate public officer.
- A passport or certificate of the child’s arrival in the United States.
- An immunization record that a public health officer or licensed practicing physician signed.
- A valid military dependent identification card.
- Proof of child’s residency: (One of the following)
- Utility bill (electric, gas, water), cable, or home phone bill in the name of a parent or guardian.
- Pay stub in the name of a parent or guardian.
- Residential rental agreement or receipt from rental payment.
- Government-issued document (e.g., Florida driver’s license, Florida identification card, or property tax assessment showing a homestead exemption).
- Please note that P.O. Boxes are not acceptable.
Which Program to Choose?
Parents can choose a VPK provider that meets their needs. There are many kinds of providers who offer VPK: preschools, faith-based providers, family home child care centers, or elementary schools that specifically offer VPK.
Parents have the option of enrolling their child in a program that starts in August and ends in May, with 540 instructional hours (often three hours per day for the school year). Or, they can choose a summer program with 300 instructional hours with longer days.
Many VPK sites or schools offer a “wrap-around” program for parents who need care for their child beyond the initial 3-hour period. That means your child could go before school and stay for afterschool. Even if you need to leave your child in child care all day, VPK means you are not paying for those initial three hours.
Just visit here or call the Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County at 561-514-3300. Lines are open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday! The Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County will review your application and email you with further instructions. Once your applications is approved, the coalition will provide you with a Certificate of Eligibility, which you can then take to any VPK provider to sign up!
Summer VPK Options
As we approach the summer months ahead, families have several options to continue their child’s learning, growth and development. Families can apply for the Summer VPK program or a VPK Reenrollment online through the Office of Early Learning’s Family Portal. Families may also contact their local Early Learning Coalition for assistance with completing the application and for information on additional summer options.
1. Reenrollment into Summer VPK
Children who complete less than 70% (378 hours) of the 2020-2021 school year VPK program, can reenroll into a 2020-2021 summer VPK program due to an extreme hardship.
2. Summer VPK
200-300 instructional hours (public schools and private providers)
School districts offer Summer VPK programs at approved schools. Children who have not previously attended a VPK program OR who meet the reenrollment criteria listed under above may be eligible to participate.
3. VPK Specialized Instructional Support (SIS)
VPK SIS is an option for children with disabilities who have a current Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Certified or licensed professionals provide instruction or therapy in individual or small group settings outside of a traditional classroom setting.
For more information, please visit HERE.
4. Reenrollment into the 2021-2022 School Year VPK Program
Children whose birthday falls between Feb. 2 and Sept. 1 of the program year and who complete less than 70% (378 hours) of the 2020-2021 school year VPK program, can reenroll into the next program year (2021-2022) due to extreme hardship and utilize their remaining instructional hours or funding that was unused from previous program year.
Florida VPK Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for VPK Reenrollment can be accessed HERE.
- Early learning resources to connect with families can be found on the OEL website under Family Resources.
For questions about VPK Program options, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-447-1159.