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Early Learning Coalition reduces age range for subsidized child care | Families

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Early Learning Coalition reduces age range for subsidized child care
Families, Schools
Early Learning Coalition reduces age range for subsidized child care

Pinellas County, FL -- The Board of Directors of the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County voted to reduce the age range for subsidized School Readiness child care services.

This action will reduce the waiting list of children ages birth through 8 years, thus enabling the coalition to focus its current funding towards the more critical, younger age groups.

Effective immediately, newly qualified children for subsidized child care within the School Readiness program must be between the ages of birth through age 8 or third grade, whichever is later. 

Children ages 9 to 12 years old who are currently enrolled in the School Readiness program may continue their enrollment through August 21, 2011, subject to standard reporting and re-determination requirements.

All children birth through 12 years old who qualify for the School Readiness program under the State of Florida’s “Protective Services” (PS) or “Temporary Assistance to Needy Families” (TANF) programs, will continue to be served.

This decision follows the recommendation of the Coalition’s Child Care Taskforce, which was comprised of area experts in child development and community partners.  The Taskforce offered multiple recommendations for consideration by the Board of Directors.

The Coalition will immediately notify all affected parents and providers of the change in age eligibility so they can begin to consider alternative child care arrangements before the start of the public school year on August 22. 

Child Care Resource and Referral staff will offer consultation with each parent to present alternatives to subsidized child care, which will consider such issues as cost, location, type of program, etc.

Janet Chapman, the Coalition’s Executive Director noted in a statement, “Ultimately the primary goal of the School Readiness program is to prepare children to enter kindergarten “ready”. Chapman added, “This is not a decision we came to lightly, board members and staff have studied this issue for over a year.”

Without a change in the eligibility age range, the Coalition faced a prospect of a wait list of over 4,000 children during the coming fiscal year. Statewide, nearly 90,000 children are on wait lists for subsidized child care.

By lowering the age range of children served, the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County will provide an equal, if not greater, amount of subsidized child care funds to serve many additional children between the ages of birth through third grade.

The Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County is one of 31 Early Learning Coalitions in Florida. It works to ensure that programs and services are available to assist the young children during the early years so critical in their development.

Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program is for all children who are 4 years old on or before September 1.

School Readiness provides assistance for low-income working families by paying a portion of the child care costs on a sliding fee scale.

Release courtesy of Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County.

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