600 8th Avenue West, Suite 100
Palmetto, FL 34221
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7:00am - 6:00pm
by appointment only
Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK)
Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) is a free program aimed to prepare four-year-old children for kindergarten and build the foundation for their educational success. VPK is available to all four-year-olds born on or before September 1 who reside in Florida, regardless of family income.
Parents may enroll their child in one of the following program options:
School Year Program
- 540 instructional hours
- Class sizes not to exceed 20 students
- Instructors must have a minimum of a Child Development Associate for the school year program (now referred to as the Birth to Five Florida Child Care Professional Credential)
- Typical class begins in late August for 3-4 hours per weekday
- 300 instructional hours
- Class sizes not to exceed 12 students
- Instructors must have a minimum of a Bachelor's degree
- Typical class begins the following June for 6-7 hours per weekday
The school year VPK program begins each year in August and consists of 540 instructional hours. The summer VPK program starts in June and consists of 300 instructional hours. Children who participate in the summer VPK program must be eligible for kindergarten the school year immediately following.
VPK programs may be administered by public, private, and faith-based providers who meet the State eligibility requirements. VPK providers determine their own program hours and days in order to meet the 540 or 300 hour requirement. For example, if a program is 180 days, it would offer 3 hours of instruction each day to meet the 540-hour requirement. A provider could also choose to offer a 6 hour-per-day program for 90 days. Check with your VPK provider of choice to determine which program best suits your child’s needs.
Providers are not permitted to charge a registration fee or require parents to agree to any additional services. State law does not, however, prohibit a provider from charging registration fees for programs or care that are not part of the VPK program hours. In many cases, children can remain at the VPK site all day but parents are responsible for paying for the hours outside of the VPK program. Transportation is not covered for VPK.
TO REGISTER FOR VPK IN MANATEE COUNTY:
(For the 2014-2015 school year)
Either register online now or visit the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County (directions here) beginning February 19, 2014 to complete an application and short interview in order to receive a Certificate of Eligibility. The parent or guardian may obtain the Certificate of Eligibility at any time between this date and the start of the VPK program. There is no urgency unless a VPK provider is unable to reserve a place for a child. If a parent or guardian is choosing a school based VPK provider (as opposed to a private or faith-based VPK provider), the COE cannot be submitted to the Manatee County School Board until they open their enrollment period. Note: The application and interview must be completed, in full, by a parent or guardian with whom the child lives.
Identification is required to validate child age and residency. Documents needed to establish eligibility are:
1. Proof of authority to register child for VPK:
(Proof you are the child's parent or guardian)
- Driver’s License or government-issued photo ID of parent/guardian
2. Proof of child’s age:
(One of the following)
- Birth Certificate - An original or certified copy, photocopies are not accepted
- Immunization Record - Indicating child’s date of birth and signed by a public health officer or licensed practicing physician (blue shot record)
- Insurance policy on the child’s life that has been in force for at least two years which reflects the child’s date of birth
- Valid passport or certificate of arrival in the US showing child’s date of birth
- Valid military dependent ID card
- Official court documents
3. Proof of Residence:
(One of the following preferred)
- PO BOXES ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE
- Valid Florida Driver’s License or identification card
- Lease or Rental Agreement for the current calendar year
- Current Paystub (within the last 6 weeks)
- Current Utility Bill (such as water or electric, within the last 6 weeks)
- Cable or cell phone bill not accepted
- Property Tax bill for current calendar year
- Bank statement not received online
- Military order showing that the child's parent is a service member in the United States Armed Forces and is assigned to duty in Florida
- Letter from Project Heart Homeless Program for Manatee County Schools, domestic violence shelter, homeless shelter, or authorized emergency management location
Selecting a VPK Provider
Parents or guardians of eligible children will receive a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the Early Learning Coalition to take to the VPK provider of their choice. Once a provider has been selected and the child becomes enrolled in a specific VPK class, the provider uses the certificate to confirm registration back to the Early Learning Coalition. To see a list of certified VPK providers in your area, please use our VPK Facility Locator tool.
There are restrictions on changing providers once you begin a program. If you wish to change VPK providers, please contact the Early Learning Coalition for information on this process.