PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — This week thousands of the state’s youngest students are starting Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK), a state-funded education program offered to all Florida four-year-olds.
To celebrate the start of a new year of VPK, the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas is partnering with early learning coalitions across the state on #1stDayVPK – a statewide campaign to welcome children into the program and help parents mark this important milestone in their child’s life as they begin this new adventure.
Check out this online resource for families to celebrate #1stDayVPK:
• Print “1st Day” flyers for photos
• Get your “1st Day” Facebook photo frame
• Check out the Early Learning Pinterest board
• Plus tips for parents and children to prepare for the first day of VPK
Parents are encouraged to use #1stDayVPK (and tag @ELCPinellas) on social media. The Office of Early Learning will be sharing #1stDayVPK tagged content on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts this week through early September.
VPK programs for the 2019-2020 school year start on different days throughout Tampa Bay and Florida. In Pinellas County, many programs will begin this Wednesday and Thursday, August 14th and 15th (but parents can still enroll now – more below).
• VPK is free for children who reside in Florida and will be 4-years-old by Sept. 1.
• Florida is one of the first states to offer free prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds.
• Results of kindergarten screenings show children who complete VPK are better prepared for kindergarten than those who did not complete or did not attend VPK.
• More than 300 centers offer VPK in Pinellas County – private, public and charter schools and private childcare centers.
• There are school year and summer VPK programs as well as specialized instructional services for 4-year-olds with special needs.
VPK builds a strong foundation for school with education aligned with various stages of a child’s development. High-quality prekindergarten programs not only help children with kindergarten readiness, but also lead to better school performance and higher graduation rates. Lindsay Carson, CEO of the Coalition in Pinellas, encourages families to participate in this free program, emphasizing the importance of its impact on academic, behavioral, and social benefits, “VPK offers children a play-based experience that builds the foundational skills necessary for academic and lifelong success.”
It’s not too late to register for VPK!
Due to popular response, the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas will again offer same-day registration for Florida’s FREE VPK program. Rapid registration is available to families at either of the Coalition offices, between 8:00am and 4:00pm, Monday, August 19, through Friday, August 30:
2536 Countryside Blvd., Suite 500
Clearwater, FL 33763
St. Pete Office
3420 8th Ave. S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
To complete same-day registration, families need to bring:
1. Proof of child’s age
o Birth certificate OR child’s passport
2. Proof of Florida Residency (address/name must match application)
o Valid FL driver’s license or ID card OR
o Current utility bill OR
o Current signed lease
“Rapid Registration” means families will walk out with their VPK certificate the same day.
If you have family or friends with a 4-year-old, share this info. VPK is a valuable resource to help a child gain the skills to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.
• Further information on VPK is available here.
• Share this flyer on the benefits of VPK and how to apply.
• English-Spanish double-sided postcard on how to apply for VPK.
• This video explains step-by-step how to apply for VPK.
Questions: Please call the Coalition’s VPK team: 727.400.4411, option 3, then option 1.