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Governor’s “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” Budget Invests Over $1 Billion in Early Education for Florida’s Children

1/28/2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2015

CONTACT: Office of Early Learning

Communications Office 850-717-8604
pio@oel.myflorida.com

 

Governor’s “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” Budget Invests Over $1 Billion in Early Education for Florida’s Children

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor Scott’s 2015-16 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget recommends $1.06 billion in funding for early child education and care, an increase of approximately $33.5 million. The proposed funding includes a $46 per-child increase in the base student allocation for the Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Education Program, a $30 million appropriation for a statewide initiative to decrease the school readiness program waiting list and money for teacher scholarships and training.

Governor Scott said, “As a father and grandfather, I know first-hand that education is the key to a great future. Having quality early learning programs available for our youngest children is part of my commitment to ensuring that Florida is the top state in the nation for education and for jobs.”

Budget highlights

  • VPK: The state’s free VPK program, which prepares 4-year-olds for kindergarten, had approximately 171,000 children enrolled last year. The Governor’s budget recommends raising the base student allocation from $2,437 to $2,483 per child in the school-year program and from $2,080 to $2,126 for children in summer programs. The $46-per-child increase would be the second annual increase for VPK students.
    • School Readiness: The School Readiness Program helps eligible low-income families get child care so they can work or attend training and/or education programs. Florida served more than 224,000 children in school readiness last year and had an average of 46,000 children statewide on waiting lists. The budget includes $30 million for school readiness to serve at least 5,300 additional children. 
    • Teacher training and development: The Governor’s budget also includes funding for scholarships and training for early childhood teachers—an additional $1.5 million for Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H), a program that provides scholarships for child care workers to get certificates and degrees, and $2 million for a teacher training project at the University of Florida Lastinger Center.

Other items

  • $2.5 million to maintain and expand Home Instruction for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) programs.
  • $4 million to maintain and expand the Help Me Grow initiative that identifies children ages birth through 8 at risk for developmental or behavioral challenges and connects their families with information and community-based resources.
  • $7 million to continue a school readiness performance funding project designed to improve school readiness outcomes by incentivizing child care providers and instructors.

 

Office of Early Learning Interim Executive Director Rodney MacKinnon said, “This budget is good news for Florida’s youngest citizens and their families. Once again, Governor Scott is demonstrating his strong commitment to early learning.”

David Lawrence Jr., chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida, said, “What the Governor is proposing underscores how important the early learning years are. The funding recommendations illustrate that we are on the path toward ensuring high-quality early learning opportunities for all Florida’s children.”

Matt Guse, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend Region and chair of Florida’s Association of Early Learning Coalitions, said, “The Governor’s budget is good for early learning coalitions, the families we serve and the child care providers we partner with. It will allow early learning coalitions to serve more children in school readiness and is an increase for the second year in a row for VPK, which is available to all Florida 4-year-olds.”

Harry Duncanson, chair of the Early Learning Advisory Council, said, “Early education and care programs for children from birth to 5 are important investments and can help pave the way for a child’s success. The programs provide funding for child care to families whose parents are working and trying to become financially self-sufficient. The Governor’s budget recommendations show that he clearly understands the importance of early learning. We are extremely pleased with the Governor’s continued recognition and strong support.”

Ted Granger, president of the United Way of Florida, said, “Putting more funds into programs such as school readiness helps children and families in Florida. Children get a good start and are more likely to be successful when they go to school. At the same time, their parents can work or get the training and education they need to get back into the workforce and become financially stable. It’s a win-win program. We are grateful to Governor Scott for continuing to invest in Florida’s children.”

Ellen McKinley, board president of the Child Development Educational Alliance, said, “Investing in the teachers who work closely with our young children will have a positive impact on our early learners. We are grateful for Governor Scott’s support.”

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The budget in its entirety is available at http://www.keepfloridaworking.com/



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