OEL Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Office of Early Learning?

Housed administratively in the Department of Education, the Office of Early Learning (OEL) is the state agency responsible for administering Florida’s School Readiness and Voluntary Prekindergarten programs. OEL oversees how early learning coalitions and other subcontractors use federal, state, local and private resources. The goal is for Florida’s children to achieve the highest possible level of school readiness.

What are early learning coalitions?

Early learning coalitions are 501(c)3 entities that locally administer Florida’s early learning programs. There are 30 early learning coalitions representing all of Florida’s 67 counties. A board of directors oversees each coalition. This map shows all of the coalitions and the counties they include.

Where can I find information about how many children are in programs or other data about early learning?

Check the early learning fact book. OEL updates that information each month.

Who is eligible to participate in the School Readiness Program?

Section 1002.87 (1), Florida Statutes, defines eligibility priorities for the School Readiness Program. There are nine priority categories:
  • Priority 1 – Children younger than age 13 whose parents receive temporary cash assistance and are subject to federal work requirements.
  • Priority 2 – At-risk children younger than age 9.
  • Priority 3 – Economically disadvantaged children until eligible to enter kindergarten. Their older siblings up to the age they are eligible to enter 6th grade may also be served.
  • Priority 4 – Children from birth to kindergarten whose parents are transitioning from the temporary cash assistance work program to employment.
  • Priority 5 – At-risk children who are at least age 9 but younger than 13. Those with siblings in priority groups 1-3 are higher priority than other children ages 9-13 in this priority group.
  • Priority 6 – Economically disadvantaged children younger than 13. Priority in this category is given to children who have a younger sibling in the School Readiness Program under priority 3.
  • Priority 7 – Children younger than 13 whose parents are transitioning from the temporary cash assistance work program to employment.
  • Priority 8 – Children who have special needs and current individual educational plans from age 3 until they are eligible to enter kindergarten.
  • Priority 9 – Children concurrently enrolled in the federal Head Start Program and VPK, regardless of priorities 1-4.

What is fraud in early learning?

The term "fraud" describes when someone intentionally deceives or omits or misrepresents information knowing that that person or someone else may receive unauthorized benefits as a result. Helping someone else commit fraud is also fraud. Since federal and state funds help pay for VPK and school readiness services, the term includes any act that constitutes fraud under applicable federal or state law. Examples include when a person or a provider gives false information (ex., incorrect income) or intentionally does not report information (ex., a new job) in order to get school readiness benefits he or she is not entitled to receive or to make someone else eligible for benefits that person is not entitled to receive. Fraud may occur in VPK if someone alters a child’s birth date or falsifies attendance records.

What happens if an individual commits fraud?

A person who commits fraud and receives program benefits they were not entitled to may be arrested, prosecuted, go to jail and have to repay the funds they received that they were not entitled to.

What should I do if I see or suspect fraud?

If you see or suspect that a person or provider is giving false information, you should contact your local early learning coalition so they can investigate the situation and take appropriate action. You can also notify the inspector general through our website.

Where can I get additional information about early learning?

Office of Early Learning
Toll Free 866-357-3239