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Message to School Readiness and VPK Providers

March 22, 2020

The Department of Education and the Office of Early Learning are committed to providing up-to-date information and guidance to our early learning community to address concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and safety of our School Readiness (SR) and Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) students, families, and providers’ staff is of utmost importance.

One of the most critical actions you can take is to ensure the health and safety of the children you serve, their families and your staff. We strongly recommend that you adhere to the CDC’s March 15, 2020 Interim Guidance for higher-risk populations by limiting children and employees to no more than 10 people in a single occupied space. You should also continuously monitor CDC guidance and to fully comply with all directives.

In collaboration with your early learning coalition, we are committed to minimizing the fiscal impact to providers and families. Yesterday, Governor DeSantis held a press conference and DOE issued a press release detailing our efforts to:

  • Ensure that all SR and VPK providers receive their funding – which means we will pay/reimburse for additional child absences when the provider is open and for those that occur during temporary closures.
  • Eliminate all requirements for remaining child screenings/assessments or provider program assessments for the 2019-20 program year.
  • Extend timelines for provider improvement plans and reports.
  • For families, we are:
  • Suspending termination of SR eligibility.
  • Extending the timelines for redetermination of SR eligibility.
  • Waiving parent copays/fees for all eligible SR families regardless of their income.

We hope you can see that we are dedicated to ensuring that childcare providers will be able to financially support their day to day operations, including paying teachers, regardless of the decision to remain open during this health care crisis. We will work with your coalition to provide more details related implementation, but request that you do not make changes to your current SR or VPK calendars at the time. If you have additional questions, please contact your early learning coalition.

The next few weeks will be very trying times but we are confident that you will continue to serve your communities and do your best to care for the children and families who you serve.