The Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County (ELCHC) supports the success of children from birth through 13 years of age by educating families about the importance of early learning experiences — both at home and in child care. Children are more likely to do better in school—and throughout life—when parents get involved with their early education, regardless of family income or background, so parent involvement in those early learning years is crucial to a child’s lifelong success. The ELCHC’s Family Services team helps families to identify quality child care and early learning programs so that families can find the best options to fit their needs. In addition, the ELCHC provides referrals to other community resources.

Preparing your child for success

The ELCHC offers two programs for families to access early learning and child care support services, School Readiness (SR) and Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK).   Families can access these programs online by using Florida Office of Early Learning Family Portal. Families can check the status of their application, submit documentation and more. A parent only needs an email address and access to a computer — or, they can visit the ELCHC at one of its locations in Hillsborough County. The Family Services team can assist families in person, over the phone or through the portal.

School Readiness Program (SR)

The School Readiness Program (SR) offers financial assistance to families for early education and care so their children can be successful in school while they become financially selfsufficient. The eligibility requirements are based on a purpose for care (working, attending school, etc.), household income and number of people in the household.

Voluntary Prekindergarten Program

(VPK) is designed to prepare Florida’s children for kindergarten and develop the skills they need to become good readers and successful students. VPK includes quality standards for literacy skills, strict accountability, appropriate curricula, substantial instruction periods, manageable class size and qualified instructors. All 4-year-old and pre-kindergarten 5-year-old children in Florida are eligible for VPK with proof of age and residency.

The Voluntary Prekindergarten Specialized Instructional Services (VPK SIS) program is an option for parents or guardians of 4-year-old children with disabilities that is available outside the traditional VPK classroom setting. If a child has a current Individual Educational Plan (IEP) from the School District of Hillsborough County that calls for specialized instructional services, families can choose VPK SIS instead of a traditional VPK school year or summer programs.

How can the ELCHC help you?

The Family Services team at the ELCHC is here to help Hillsborough County families get the services they need. There are two locations which offer access to computers and Family Services Specialists who can assist in applying for services. Once a family enters their application for any of the programs, the Family Services team will review the application and communicate with parents through the Florida Office of Early Learning Family Portal. If you need additional help in understanding School Readiness, VPK or other topics related to early childhood education and care, contact our Family Services team at (813) 515-2340 or visit our website at www.elchc.org

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