FAQ For Families
(1) What is Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK)?
The VPK Program is a program designed to prepare four-year-olds for kindergarten and build the foundation for their educational success. The program allows a parent to enroll his or her eligible child (four years old by September 1 and residing in Florida) in a FREE VPK program of their choice. The program is voluntary for children and providers. VPK was signed into law by Governor Bush on January 2, 2005 after a constitutional amendment was passed by the citizens of Florida in 2002.
(2) When is my child eligible for the VPK program?
A child must be 4 years of age on or before September 1 of the program year, and reside in Florida to participate in the VPK program.
(3) Is the VPK program only for 4 year olds? If yes, where can I send my 2 year old?
Yes the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program is only open to children who turn four-years of age on or before September 1st of the program year and reside in the State of Florida. However, there are other options available to you for a two year old child. Just call our Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) service at 321-219-6300 to learn more about all the legally operating early learning providers in Osceola County. A trained CCR&R specialist will be able to provide you with a customized listing of referrals that match the needs of you and your child.
(4) Do I have to enroll my eligible child in the VPK program?
No. The VPK program is voluntary and your child does not have to participate.
(5) How much does it cost to enroll in a VPK program?
The VPK program is FREE for eligible children, regardless of family income. Providers are not permitted to charge a fee (registration, supplies, etc.) or require parents to agree to any additional services as a condition for enrolling their child into a VPK program. State law does not, however, prohibit a provider from charging registration fees for care provided before/after the VPK program. Providers may also charge late fees for children not picked up in a timely manner at the end of the program.
(6) If I am asked to pay a fee as part of the VPK program by my provider, what should I do?
If a VPK provider asks for any type of fees as a condition for participating in the VPK program, they should be reported to the Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County at (407) 933-5353.
(7) Will the VPK program provide transportation?
No. 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.
(8) What VPK program options are available for families?
There are two different options for families:
(a) A school-year program consisting of 540 instructional hours; or
(b) A summer program consisting of 300 instructional hours.
VPK providers have flexibility in structuring the hours per day and days per week to meet the required instructional hours. For example, if a program is 180 days (similar to a school-year calendar), it would offer 3 hours of instruction each day to meet the 540-hour requirement. A provider could also choose to offer a 6 hour-per-day program for 90 days. Providers may consider other options, including offering a morning or afternoon program or having a program for 2 or 3 days a week instead of every day.
(9) When will I be able to select a provider?
You may choose a provider any time after receiving your VPK enrollment certificate.
(10) Who is eligible to deliver the VPK program?
Public, private, and faith-based providers may be eligible to deliver the program depending on whether they meet the minimum standards required in law. The school-year program cannot begin before the first day of a county’s public school system. The summer program cannot begin before May 1st. However, providers have flexibility in meeting the required number of instructional hours and may have different start and end dates. Children may participate in the summer VPK program the summer immediately before the school year for which the child is eligible for kindergarten.
(11) Will providers be able to turn away children requesting to enroll in the VPK program?
A private prekindergarten provider may establish and use criteria to determine whether to admit a child for services in the school-year or summer programs. Criteria must be objective and apply uniformly for all children. State and federal law prohibits certain discriminatory admissions. These admissions criteria may include, but are not limited to, the objective standards and methods described below
The following standards and methods are examples of objective criteria:
(a) Random selection (e.g., lottery);
(b) Geography (e.g., children who reside within a certain school zone or children who reside within a county served by the provider or school);
(c) First come, first served;
(d) Previous service (i.e., children previously served by the provider or school); or
(e) Targeted populations (e.g., children at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation; children whose family income does not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level; or children who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch meals under the National School Lunch Program).
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. Florida law also prohibits providers from requiring enrollment into supplemental services as a condition of enrollment.