VPK at the ELC
Do you have a little one in your life that is ready for preschool? If they will be 4 years old by September 1, they are eligible for FREE VPK thanks to the State of Florida’s VPK Program! The Ministry Village Early Learning Center is an approved VPK Provider! Learn more about sending your child to VPK and what the Ministry Village ELC’s program offers.
What is VPK?
If you aren’t part of the preschool crowd, the term “VPK” might be a mystery to you. “VPK” stands for “Voluntary Prekindergarten”. In 2005, Governor Jeb Bush signed a law creating the Florida Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program to prepare four year olds for kindergarten. The Florida VPK program was designed to prepare children to enter school “ready to learn,” as well as address the disparity between families who could afford to enroll in a learning-preschool and those who could not.
Research into early learning and child development gained attention in the early 2000s, revealing that many preschool children were simply not ready for kindergarten. They didn’t know their colors. Their social and developmental skills were lacking. Reading even the simplest words was a foreign concept. Further research revealed that there was also a disparity in the children who were prepared. The children whose families could afford to enroll in a high-quality, education-based preschool program excelled in kindergarten, elementary school and beyond. Those kids whose families could not afford to enroll in a quality preschool often struggled with their education for many years. Based on this research, the Governor’s Florida VPK program was born.
Through Florida VPK, a parent can choose to enroll a child into the free program, and help build a foundation that will lead to educational success. Throughout the state of Florida, there are public, private and faith-based providers who accept the Florida VPK vouchers and must meet minimum standards required by law. The children are evaluated and the readiness scores of VPK centers are made publicly available to parents.
Is my child eligible?
To be eligible for free Florida VPK, a child must live in the state of Florida while attending VPK and be 4 years of age on September 1 of the school year. (So for the upcoming 2021-2022 VPK year, a child must be 4 by September 1, 2021.) To register for VPK, parents contact the Early Learning Coalition in the county where their preferred VPK Provider is located. In Escambia County, parents apply through the Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County and can apply online at https://familyservices.floridaearlylearning.com/. Proof of age and residency are required. Acceptable documentation includes:
Child’s birth certificate, Florida immunization record signed by a doctor or nurse, US Passport, valid child’s military ID, certified copy of child’s Certificate of Baptism, or life insurance for the child within 2 years;
Current utility bill, current pay stub, current property tax, military orders, rental lease with leasor and leasee signatures, or valid Florida ID with current residency listed. Residency documents must be in a parent’s name. If the parent does not have documentation in their name, they can contact the Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County for alternative documentation options.
Once the VPK Application has been approved by the Early Learning Coalition, parents will receive an email and the child’s printable VPK Eligibility Certificate. That certificate can be taken to the VPK Program Provider of choice.
What about VPK at Ministry Village?
The Ministry Village ELC’s VPK Program provides families with an education-focused program utilizing the Creative Curriculum®. VPK kids actively participate in early education STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities, as well as daily Bible stories, art, structured and free-play time. The weekly lesson plans are purposefully and intentionally planned to meet the needs of each child, and families are provided with extension activities and ideas to use at home to support the learning and concepts their child engages in at the ELC. “VPK provides a wonderful opportunity for children to start their educational years off with a firm foundation,” said Mrs. Kristi Zagar, Director of Ministry Village Early Learning Center. “We are excited to provide our community with high-quality, Christ-centered care that includes VPK.”
At the Ministry Village ELC, the VPK Program follows the Escambia County School District Calendar. Check-in for the school day begins at 8:45 AM, instruction time begins promptly at 9 AM in each classroom, and the VPK school day ends at 12 PM. The only requirement to participate in the Ministry Village ELC VPK Program is a Certificate of Eligibility from the Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County. There is no cost for the hours of instruction and care that fall under the Florida VPK Program, and students registering only for the free VPK program with a Certificate of Eligibility are not charged registration or supply fees. If a family needs childcare beyond the regular VPK school day, a child can enroll in Wrap-Around VPK Care which provides care from the end of the VPK instruction time until 6 PM.
What do I do next?
Enroll now! The Ministry Village ELC is currently accepting enrollment for the 2021-2022 VPK school year, and spaces are available! Once you receive your child’s Certificate of Eligibility from the Early Learning Coalition, call us at (850) 378-8044 and schedule a time to register and take a tour! We’d love to meet you! As the school year approaches, we will have an opportunity for you to meet your teacher and see your classroom!
- The school calendar is being finalized and will be aligned with the Escambia County school district’s calendar. Classes will begin in mid-August and continue until mid-May.
- For more information on the Ministry Village Early Learning Center, visit our website at MinistryVillageELC.org or call (850) 378-8044. Our website provides an application, tuition fees, and answers many frequently asked questions.
- Follow us on Facebook for the latest news and information.
Ministry Village Early Learning Center
1724 E. Olive Road, Pensacola, FL 32514