History and Purpose
The Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County is one of 31 Coalitions located throughout the state of Florida. These Coalitions were originally created in May of 1999 as a component of Florida Statute 411- the School Readiness Act.
The mission of the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County is to provide and coordinate the services of school readiness programs, in an efficient manner, in order to help all children develop the skills needed to achieve future educational success, to support the role of parents as their child's first and most important teacher, and to continue to improve the quality of services available in the community.
The vision of the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County is to provide and support high quality school readiness opportunities for all children and their families, understanding that it is in the first years of life that a child's future educational success is determined.
Meeting the First Education Goal: School Readiness
The intent of the School Readiness Act was to create a locally designed, operated, and managed system of fully integrated and coordinated school readiness programs with a state-level partnership providing overall leadership for coordinating programmatic, administrative, and fiscal policies and standards. Local coalitions are responsible for examining local programs and delivery systems, establishing concrete steps to improve service integration, efficiency, and quality, and developing an evaluation plan to measure progress in meeting the goals it establishes. In order to accomplish these requirements, coalitions must understand the strengths and needs in their communities and develop multiple community partnerships and action steps for service continuation, service improvements, and to address gaps in service. Service delivery, as defined by the Act, includes early education and care, screening and assessment, and parenting supports. Local coalitions are required to develop strategies to bring school readiness partners together, develop concrete steps to integrate services, identify mechanisms to increase efficiencies, and implement quality improvement activities.
School Readiness Goals
The School Readiness Act requires a community plan to address the needs of all eligible children. In order for children to be ready for school, the following goals (as identified in F.S. 411.01) must be addressed in the community plan:
- Goal 1: School readiness programs shall prepare children for success in school.
- Goal 2: School readiness programs shall involve parents as their child's first teacher and support family skill building.
- Goal 3: School readiness programs shall be an integrated and seamless system of services and shall be implemented through local coalitions.
- Goal 4: School readiness programs shall be coordinated and public funding integrated to achieve effectiveness and efficiency.
Upon enactment of HB1A in January 2005, the Coalition also became responsible for the implementation and administration of the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program, which serves 4 year old children. The Coalition administers the VPK Program for children who are receiving that service only, as well as integrating VPK into the School Readiness component, when applicable.
Note: The School Readiness Act is viewable online here.