Programs for Families & Children
The Early Learning Coalition of Florida's Heartland (ELCFH) offers many programs for families and children:
For a brief introduction on Early Care and Learning and Child Care Checklist please download the following:
Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK)
Registering for VPK! Click Here to Register.
VPK Parent Online Registration System Frequently Asked Questions---click here!
The ELCFH has always done face to face appointments for VPK registration but in 2014 is now offering VPK Online registration. Face to face appointments will be available in late March 2014, as needed, but we urge you to try this new process that can be done in the comfort of your home, or from any computer, laptop or smart phone. If you are more comfortable doing your VPK registration face to face, then please connect with our local ELCFH office to schedule an appointment--our first availability begins on Monday, March 24th.
During your registration process we will have to determine the age of your child and also Florida residency. These are acceptable documents:
Verification of child's age. One of the following will be acceptable:
- Birth Certificate
- Certificate of baptism (original or certified copy)
- Religious record of birth accompanied by affidavit from the child's parent
- Insurance policy for the child (must have been in effect for at least 2 years)
- Valid military dependant identification card
- Immunization record that indicates child's date of birth and signed by a public health officer or licensed practicing physician (blue shot record or Florida Shots))
- Valid passport or certificate of arrival in the US showing child's date of birth
- Official court documents
Verification of Florida residence One of the following will be acceptable:
The address that you list on the VPK application must match to one of the below:
- PO BOX ADDRESSES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED
- Valid Florida Driver's License/identification card
- Current Pay stubs--within the last 6 weeks from the date of registration
- Residential rental/lease agreement for the current year
- Current Utility bill for water and sewer, natural gas, or electric that are current within the last 30 days. (Submit full bill page) Utility bill does not include cable or cell phone charges.
- Property tax bill for current year
- Florida's Voter's registration card
- Current non-expired Florida vehicle registration
- Bank statement
Selecting a VPK provider
Parents or guardians of eligible children wil receive a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the ELCFH to take to their choice of VPK provider. Once a provider has been selected and the
child becomes enrolled in a specific VPK class, the provider uses the certificate to communicate child registration to the ELCFH. Both the parent and the VPK provider must sign the COE for it to be effective.
There must be four enrolled VPK children for the actual VPK classroom to become recognized by the ELCFH as a VPK classroom.
Click Here to see a list of VPK providers.
VPK program information
Voluntary Prekindergarten is a free program that prepares four year old children in that very important year before kindergarten, and also builds a strong foundation for educational success. VPK is available to all four year olds born on or before September 1st and who reside in Florida, regardless of family income. Parents have the option of two VPK program options for their 4 year children:
School Year program
- 540 instructional hours
- Class size not to exceed 20 children
- Instructors must have a minimum of a Birth to Five Florida Child Care Professional Credential (FCCPC)
- Typical class begins in August for 3-4 hours per weekday
- 300 instructional hours
- Class size not to exceed 12 students
- Instructor must have a minimum of a state approved Bachelor's degree
- Typical class begins in June for 7-9 hours per weekday
- Children who participate in the Summer program must be eligible for kindergarten the school year immediately following.
VPK programs may be administered in private, public and faith based providers who meet the State eligibility requirements. All VPK providers will determine their own daily hours and daily schedules to meet the 540 or 300 hour requirements. A VPK provider who is aligning their program with the local school district can choose to offer 180 days with 3 hours of daily instruction. However a provider can also choose to offer a 90 day program for 6 hours daily, The VPK provider profile that is maintained by the ELCFH will have this information provided. Check with your VPK provider of choice to determine that it meets the needs of you and your child.
VPK providers are NOT permitted to charge a registration fee of any kind or require that parents agree to pay for extra services. VPK providers cannot require parents to bring supplies or pay for any field trips or any other additional fees. If you have this experience please connect with the ELCFH immediately. Please know that if you are requesting full day child care, that the parent can be assessed a registration fee and any costs for those hours outside of the VPK instructional class time. Parents are responsible for paying for program hours outside of the VPK program. Transportation is NOT covered by VPK.
Take a moment to watch this informative video about the VPK program:
VPK Parent's Rights & Responsibilities Video
School Readiness Programs
For a brief introduction on School Readiness Programs and what it offers, please download the OEL flyer.
For a brief introduction on Early Care and Learning and a Child Care Checklist, please download the ELCFH information.
The Early Learning Coalition of Florida's Heartland, Inc. (ELCFH) offers financial assistance to eligible families to obtain affordable, quality child care. Children birth through 12 years of age and children with special needs birth through 17 years of age are eligible.
Eligibility requirements are based on total family income with parents working at least 20 hours per week, or going to school at least 20 hours per week or a combination of both. Parents may also be referred by appropriate community agencies.
• Resource and referral
• Program monitors
• Quality enhancement
• ELCFH Contracted School Readiness Providers
The ELCFH offers child development screenings and assessment for children age birth to five years. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) is used for child screenings and the Learning Accomplishment Profile (LAP) is used for child assessment.
The E-LAP or the LAP-3 assessments provides valuable information about a child's growth and development and may help to identify developmental concerns. Additional support services and referrals for further evaluation of a child's development may be offered.
The ELCFH supports children with special needs to be included in quality early care and education programs. Inclusive services help to ensure that children with and without disabilities experience the benefits of living and growing together.
Benefits of inclusion are:
• Children develop a positive image of themselves and a healthy attitude about the uniqueness of others
• Children with special needs have opportunities to learn new skills by interacting with other children
• Families have an opportunity to teach their children about individual differences and diversity
• A community becomes more accepting and supportive of all people
ELCFH inclusion services are:
• A WARMLINE (866) 639-4979
• Monthly trainings and in-service for providers
• On-site consultation and technical assistance for providers
The Florida Directory of Early Childhood Services (Central Directory) has provided services to thousands of families and providers seeking advocacy, education, training, resource and referral, and information on disability services available in their communities.
The Central Directory toll-free line is also utilized as the electronic link for callers to be connected to State and Local Department of Health/CMS/Early Steps Offices, State and Local Department of Education/Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS), and the Office of Early Learning Inclusion Contacts - (800) 654-4440 or www.centraldirectory.org