Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK)
The Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program is a free pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds who reside in Florida and were born on or before September 1st of each program year.
The VPK program is FREE for eligible children, regardless of family income. The Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County, Inc. (ELCPBC) issues a Certificate of Eligibility to parents upon completion of the registration process. 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. Florida law specifies that each parent is responsible for the transportation of his or her child to and from the VPK program. Some VPK providers may offer transportation services, and families are encouraged to explore these options before choosing a VPK provider. Florida law prohibits VPK providers from discriminating against children or their parents on the ground of race, color, or national origin, including the refusal to admit a child to the VPK program.
The VPK program places no limit on the number of children served by each provider. It is each provider’s decision of how many children to serve. You are required to enter an agreement with ELCPBC and must meet numerous state standards to offer the VPK program, including but not limited to, credentials and background screenings of instructors, minimum and maximum class sizes, director credentials, and developmentally appropriate curriculum. Registered family child care homes, unlicensed family child care homes, and informal child care providers are not eligible to participate in the VPK program. Each school district is required by law to deliver the summer VPK program.
Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Contracts must now be completed on the Office of Early Learning (OEL) Provider Portal. You can find detailed instructions and helpful video tutorials on the features and use of the portal at the link here. When you are a VPK Provider, it is important to know the responsibilities outlined in the Provider Contract and to be up to date on any new regulations. Please review the entire contract to ensure you are in full compliance with all of aspects of the contract.
ELCPBC will notify the provider if any additional information is needed.
Please note that all School Readiness and Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Providers should register in the E-Verify system in order to be eligible for contracting for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2021-2022. Prior to entering into the 2021-2022 contract, each provider will be required to submit the completed Affidavit Concerning Employment of Unauthorized Alien. The notarized form can be uploaded into the Provider Profile Documents section.
Each private provider must be a:
Each private provider must also meet one of the following qualifications:
Please see the following guidance from OEL regarding Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) accreditation.
Each VPK class must have in attendance at least four (4) children with eligible VPK certificates in order to begin instruction for funding. Providers may organize their VPK classes to combine VPK and non-VPK children as a blended class, but cannot exceed the maximum class size, the teacher to child ratio, or the licensed room capacity.
A Level 2 background screening, as well as a signed and dated Attestation of Good Moral Character, must be completed by each staff member before employment (and completed annually for child care licensing). In addition, he/she must be re-fingerprinted at least once every five (5) years. Please see the following letter from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for more information on this process.
VPK Providers must provide parents/legal guardians with a copy of their written attendance policy upon enrollment of each child into the VPK program. Providers must also upload a copy of that attendance policy to their VPK application. The VPK attendance policy must include language that informs parents that they are required to complete the monthly attendance verification forms.
Please note that a provider’s attendance policy is not the same as the State’s VPK Funding Policy. Providers have the right to determine how many absences/tardies are allowable. Children who complete 70% (including paid absences) of a VPK program will be included in that program’s readiness rate.
A child may transfer only ONE TIME -if they have completed less than 70% of the VPK program hours- regardless of circumstances. Providers may accept children with approved transfers; however, the parent must submit the re-enrollment certificate to the provider prior to enrollment. Providers will not receive payment without a newly issued certificate. As a reminder, a provider should not return the Certificate of Eligibility to a parent if their child disenrolls. The provider is required to maintain the certificate in the child’s file for five years. Please see the following link for guidance and information regarding VPK re-enrollment.
VPK provider may not require a parent/legal guardian to pay fees or charges for any part of the VPK program, including, but not limited to registration fees. However, a provider may request that a parent voluntarily purchase or bring in personal items such as: instructional materials or supplies, lunch, snacks, or hygiene products (e.g. tissues, soap).
VPK child records are confidential and must be kept by the provider for at least five (5) years after the child’s last day of attendance. Records include Certificate of Eligibility, Parent Attendance Verification Forms, and signed VPK Attendance Policy.
ELCPBC has an ongoing duty to verify a VPK provider’s compliance with Florida Statutes, state policies, and ELC procedures. Provider must agree to allow ELCPBS's monitors to visit their VPK programs during VPK hours. Provider must also agree to allow ELCPBC's monitors to review their attendance, lesson plans, and observe their classrooms. Please visit our Quality Supports & Monitoring page for the requested documents for monitoring list, tip sheet, copies of the School Readiness (SR) and VPK Monitoring tools, as well as Post Audit Attendance Monitoring (PAAM) information.
Providers must report "unusual incidents" to ELCPBC by no later than the close of business on the next business day of the unusual incident and to submit a written report to ELCPBC within three (3) business days from the date of the incident. For licensed providers, sending a copy of the incident report submitted for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to ELCPBC shall constitute compliance with this [requirement]."
An "unusual incident" is described as an event involving the health and safety of a child while in the provider's care and/or any incident that may cause a disruption in the provider's operation. Specific examples include "accusations of abuse or neglect against the provider or provider's staff; the injury of a child which requires professional medical attention at the provider's site or written notification from the child's parent that the child received professional medical attention; and when a provider receives notice of litigation where the provider is named party or defendant and which relates to the provider's operation at any location at which [School Readiness, VPK, and/or CSC Scholarship] services are being provided."
For more information, please feel free to review our "Who Do I Call?" flyer to assist you in reporting.
All changes must be submitted to ELCPBC within 14 calendar days of the change. The provider must ensure that any new VPK instructor or director meets all of the requirements of law before implementing any changes. Failure to do so will cause your program to be out of compliance and payment may be withheld. All VPK forms and supporting documentation must be completed and submitted through the OEL Provider Portal.
Please note that all School Readiness and Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Providers should register in the E-Verify system in order to be eligible for contracting for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2021-2022. Prior to entering into the 21/22 contract each provider will be required to submit the completed Affidavit Concerning Employment of Unauthorized Alien. The notarized form can be uploaded into the Provider Profile Documents section.