FLORIDA’S VOLUNTARY PREKINDERGARTEN PROGRAM
I am interested in becoming a VPK provider!
What is VPK?
A constitutional amendment passed by Florida’s voters in November 2002 required a Voluntary Prekindergarten 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.
What private providers are eligible to deliver the VPK Program?
Each private provider must be a licensed child care facility, a licensed family day care home (registered homes are not eligible), a licensed large family child care home, a non-public school, or faith-based child care provider that is exempt from licensure. Each private provider must also:
- OPTION 1: Be accredited by a VPK recognized accrediting association;
- OPTION 2: Hold a current Gold Seal Quality Care designation; or
- OPTION 3: Be a licensed child care provider and demonstrate to the early learning coalition that the provider meets the VPK program requirements, including but not limited to, credentials and background screenings of instructors, minimum and maximum class sizes, director credentials, and developmentally appropriate curriculum.
Unlicensed family day care homes and informal child care providers are not eligible to participate in the program. (back to top)
What are the standards or requirements for the school-year VPK Program?
A provider delivering the school-year program must:
- Offer 540 instructional hours.
- Maintain VPK classes with at least four children and no more than 20 children (however, providers may not exceed their licensed capacity).
- Have a VPK Director’s Credential. Directors who received the DCF Director’s Credential prior to December 31, 2006, are exempt from obtaining the VPK Director’s endorsement (but are strongly encouraged to participate in the trainings).
- Have a developmentally appropriate curriculum.
- Have, for each VPK class, at least one VPK instructor who:
(a) Holds, at a minimum, a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential issued by the National Credentialing Program or a credential approved by the Department of Children and Families as being equivalent to or greater than the national credential
Completes a five-hour emergent literacy training course and standards for 4 years old (2011) or Implementing the Florida Standards in Preschool Classrooms: 3 Years Old to Kindergarten (July 2018)
(b) Holds one of the following educational credentials:
- A bachelor’s or higher degree in early childhood education, Prekindergarten or primary education, preschool education, or family and consumer science.
- A bachelor’s or higher degree in elementary education if the Prekindergarten instructor has been certified to teach children any age from birth through 6th grade, regardless of whether the instructor’s educator certificate is current.
- An associate or higher degree in child development.
- An associate or higher degree in an unrelated field, at least six credit hours in early childhood education or child development, and at least 480 hours of experience in teaching or providing child care services for children any age from birth through 8 years of age.
- An educational credential approved by the Department of Education as being equivalent to or greater than an educational credential described above.
- Have, for each VPK class of 12 or more children, at least one additional instructor who has current Level 2 background screenings.
- Employ instructors of good moral character.
- Complete background screening (Level 2 screening in s.435.04, F.S.) for all instructors.
What are the standards or requirements for the Summer VPK Program?
A provider delivering the VPK Summer Program must:
- Offer 300 instructional hours.
- Offer the program between May 1 and the start of the public schools in your county.
- Maintain VPK classes with at least four children and no more than 12 children (however, providers may not exceed their licensed capacity).
- Have a developmentally appropriate curriculum.
- Have, for each VPK class, an instructor who holds one of the following credentials:
- A bachelor’s or higher degree in early childhood education, Prekindergarten or primary education, preschool education, or family and consumer science; or
- Current valid Florida teaching certificate; or
- Bachelor’s or higher degree in elementary education, if the Prekindergarten instructor has been certified to teach children any age from birth through 6th grade, regardless of whether the instructor’s educator certificate is current.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will providers be able to turn away children requesting to enroll in their VPK program?
Florida Law prohibits VPK providers from discriminating against children or their parents on the basis of race, color, or national origin, including the refusal to admit a child to the VPK program.
How much funding will be provided per child?
Allocations are subject to change each fiscal year based on legislation. Please click here for current allocations.
How will VPK providers get paid?
VPK providers will be paid in advance with a reconciliation of attendance conducted at the end of each month. There is also an option to opt out of these payments and only receive actual payments. Payment option is included in the VPK provider contract.
Will there be parent fees associated with the VPK program?
The VPK program is FREE for all eligible children, regardless of family income. 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, tuition, etc., for programs or care that are not part of the VPK program hours.
Will the VPK program provide funding for transportation?
No. Florida Law specifies that each parent is responsible for the transportation of his or her child to and from the VPK program. VPK providers may offer transportation services for families.
Where can I find more information regarding the Child Development Associate Equivalency (CDAE) program?
You can find more information at the Department of Children and Families website.
Is the Employment History Recognition Exemption the same as being granted a CDAE?
The Employment History Recognition Exemption is not the same as a Florida CDAE, which is an approved course of study. The Employment History Recognition Exemption is an alternative to the Florida CDAE that meets the staff credential requirement for purposes of licensing, but does not qualify as a credential for the purpose of VPK.
I want to work in a VPK program, what do I need to do?
Training varies depending on which program you want to work in. Requirements for working in an early learning program can be found here. Course schedules and fees can be obtained by selecting your county at the top of the page. For more information, please contact the Child Care Training Services Center (CCTSC) at 1-888-352-2842.
Applying to be a VPK Provider
The VPK provider application process is done entirely online through the Provider Portal:
The above link will take you to the Provider Portal where you will need to have an account if you have not already registered for one. If you have never offered VPK before, please notify (800) 238-3463 the department that you will be registering so we can be sure to look for your activation request.
You will need to first complete your center profile for the program year you want to offer VPK and submit it for activation. Once your profile has been reviewed by ECS and activated, we can initiate the VPK APP and eventually the VPK contract. The Provider Portal User Guide is a helpful tool to have saved to your desk top during the process of completing your profile and application.
As a VPK provider you are required to administer the VPK assessment. Ordering and deadline information is below.
Please call the Contract department, if you have any questions at 904-726-1500. Ext:7054