What is Voluntary Prekindergarten?
A constitutional amendment passed by Florida’s voters in November 2002 required a Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program for all 4-year-old children by fall 2005. House Bill 1-A was signed into law by Governor Bush on January 2, 2005, creating a program designed to prepare 4-year-olds for kindergarten and build the foundation for their educational success. The program allows a parent to enroll his or her eligible child (4 years old by September 1 and residing in Florida) in a free VPK program. The program is voluntary for children and providers.
- VPK began in the fall of the 2005 school year.
- High-quality educational program with an early literacy focus.
- FREE for all children who are 4 years old by September 1 and reside in Florida.
- FREE for children who turn 5 year old between February 2 through September 1 and postpone their VPK eligibility to the next program year and reside in Florida.
- No registration fee.
- Providers and Instructors must meet minimum requirements.
- Ratios are one credentialed instructor per 11 children.
- Class size will not exceed 20 children.
- Parents have the option of choosing the provider that meets their own family’s needs.
- Both private and public providers will participate.
VPK Program Options
May participate in one of the following:
- School Year Program – 540 instructional hours; OR
- Summer Program – 300 instructional hours; children may participate in the VPK program in the summer immediately before the school year in which the child is age eligible for kindergarten; OR
- Specialized Instructional Services (SIS) – Allows VPK-eligible children with current Individual Education Plans (IEPs), and for whom instruction in a traditional VPK classroom environment may not be desired by the parent, to utilize VPK funding in a way to focus on the child’s individual special needs.
- VPK Flex Program – The Florida Department of Education and the Office of Early Learning have added this availability for VPK providers that have opted to apply and have met all criteria for application approval. The VPK FLEX option is a virtual feature through December 2020 allowing up to 270 virtual hours with a return to in-person instruction in January 2021 to complete the rest of the 540 total instructional hours.
***NOTE: Once your child has enrolled in kindergarten, they are no longer eligible to participate in the VPK program.***
- Must be developmentally appropriate.
- Focus on early literacy skills.
- Prepare the child to be ready for kindergarten based on standards adopted by the State Board of Education.
- Parents are responsible for their children’s transportation.
VPK Parent Handbook: This handbook provides further information about the VPK program, as well as your Rights & Responsibilities as a VPK parent.
VPK Fact Sheet: Florida’s VPK Program Information Sheet.
It’s Ok to Play in VPK: This brochure will tell you about all the things your child should be learning while in the VPK program.
2020-2021 VPK Activities Calendar: The ELC of North Florida VPK Family Activity Calendar
Other Early Learning Programs
If you checked ‘Yes’ on your online VPK application that you were interested in more information about other early learning programs your family may be eligible for or services for you and your children from infants through school age (including full-day School Readiness services, resource and referral, Florida Kid Care, and social services), please click here for English and here for Spanish.
Fact Sheet for Families – (Click here) for an overview of available early learning programs in the state of Florida including programs for children with Special Needs.
To speak with a VPK specialist, call us today!
Toll Free 1-800-745-4836