Children who go through voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK) can acquire the skills they need in order to be ready for traditional kindergarten classrooms. School readiness often goes hand-in-hand with VPK, but early childhood education can pose a financial challenge for some families. Read on to learn more about school readiness and how it’s attainable for your child.
What Is School Readiness?
Broadly, it includes an array of skills that will help your child succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Signs of school readiness include social and behavioral skills, problem-solving, understanding how to learn, language/communication skills, and a positive attitude toward learning, among other things. Generally, positive developments in cognitive, behavioral, and emotional wellbeing denotes school readiness. It not only has to do with a child, but also their school’s and their family’s ability to provide them with a healthy learning environment that supports their education and growth.
Florida Program For School Readiness
School readiness is also the title of a program in Florida that grants financial assistance to low-income families. The program was designed to help give children the opportunity to succeed in high-quality academic settings and help their parents or guardians become financially self-sufficient. If paying for your child’s early education or (covering costs associated with it) is a significant financial hurtle, the state of Florida offers financial assistance to eligible families.
Notably, Florida offers free VPK programs to all children in the qualifying age range who are Florida residents. However, some families need more assistance with offsetting the cost of childcare and early education programs, and Florida offers this school readiness program specifically to provide that. From after-school care in Broward County to other education-related costs, the program will work with your family to figure out the best path for your child’s education.
Who Qualifies For Florida’s School Readiness Program?
There are three primary requirements to qualify for Florida’s school readiness assistance program.
The eligibility requirements are:
- Parents or guardians must be working and/or enrolled in some form of educational program (including college or trade school) at least 20 hours a week OR have a disability
- The household’s gross income can’t exceed 150% of the federal poverty level for the child’s family size.
- Families are responsible for a copayment for costs of childcare (which varies depending on income and family size).
If you meet these requirements, you may apply for assistance. You will be placed on a waitlist depending on enrollment timelines and funding availability. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know how long you could be on the waitlist to receive assistance. Because funds are given out on a first-come first-served basis, be sure to apply as soon as you can.
While the above three conditions are the only requirements for applying for VPK assistance, the state of Florida passed legislation granting priority to children and families in certain circumstances. Some counties weigh each priority differently, but below are some general priorities for school readiness assistance.
- Children of certain ages whose parents receive temporary cash assistance or are transitioning from the temporary cash assistance work programs to employment
- Economically disadvantaged children
- Children at-risk of abuse, neglect, or abandonment
- Children with special needs and an individual education plan (IEP) prior to entering kindergarten
Seeking Help In Broward County
The Early Learning Coalition of Broward County provides school readiness assistance in conjunction with the state of Florida. Funding helps your family get financial assistance with costs relating to your child’s education, including childcare and VPK. Their website answers questions you may have about the application and the types of childcare and education providers that are sanctioned by the school readiness assistance program. According to the ELC of Broward County, priority for assistance is given to children with special needs, children from economically disadvantaged families, and at-risk children.
Parkland Children’s Academy VPK Program
Parkland Children’s Academy offers a safe, fun, and educational VPK program, which is free through funding from the state of Florida if your child meets the birthdate requirements. We also offer after school care, which you can learn more about more on our website. If you need assistance with any part of the early child education journey, don’t hesitate to give us a call today at (954) 688-5877.