FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2017
Office of Early Learning
Communications Office 850-717-8604
GOVERNOR SCOTT’S “FIGHTING FOR FLORIDA’S FUTURE” BUDGET INVESTS IN FLORIDA’S FUTURE STUDENTS
Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor Scott announced today that the 2017-2018 “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Budget recommends $1.1 billion for the Office of Early Learning, which is an increase of approximately $36.1 million. These investments will help ensure Florida’s earliest learners are prepared for their future.
Governor Scott said, “As a father and grandfather, I know firsthand how important early learning is when it comes to preparing children for future success in the classroom and beyond. I am proud to invest more than $1 billion to ensure we prepare our youngest students to be successful throughout their lives.”
Governor Scott’s “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Budget includes:
- $406.5 million for the Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Education Program: More than 175,000 children were enrolled last year in the state’s free VPK program, which prepares 4-and-5-year-olds for kindergarten. The Governor’s budget includes an $11.3 million increase, raising the base student allocation $50 per child in the VPK school-year program (from $2,437 to $2,487) and $43 per child in the summer program (from $2,080 to $2,123).
- $25 million to serve more children in the School Readiness Program: The program helps eligible low-income families get child care so parents can work or attend training and/or education programs to be able to work. Florida served approximately 207,000 children in the program last year and, on average, more than 37,000 children were on waiting lists statewide. This funding will serve approximately 4,600 more children.
- $15.5 million for Early Learning Performance Funding: Performance-based funding improves outcomes for children in School Readiness by providing special training and incentives to child care providers and instructors.
- $10 million for T.E.A.C.H.: This statewide early childhood scholarship program helps child care center teaching staff, preschool teachers and providers earn certifications and degrees while they continue to work in early childhood and school-age care settings. The education level of child care providers is a critical indicator of early child care quality.
Rodney MacKinnon, executive director of the Office of Early Learning, said, “Once again, Governor Scott’s budget reflects his understanding of the importance of early learning in terms of a child’s future. His recommendations make it clear that he wants to ensure that Florida remains a leader in early education.”
David Lawrence Jr., chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida, said, “"A foundation of high-quality early learning is simply vital, giving children the best possible chance to succeed in school and in life. I appreciate the governor's commitment to making important investments in early childhood education."
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 all Florida families. The families we serve and the child care providers we partner with will all benefit from increased dollars and resources.”
Adrian Alfonso, board chair of the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe, said, "We applaud Governor Scott. His recommendations clearly acknowledge that public/private partnerships in early learning help ensure our children enter school ready to succeed."
Roy Keister, president of the Florida Association for Child Care Management (FACCM), said, “As a child care provider and president of a statewide provider organization, I appreciate the Governor’s investment in early learning. These dollars enable providers to serve children during the important years when their brains are developing so rapidly.”
Ellen McKinley, board president of the Child Development Education Alliance, said, “Early learning supports both education and jobs. Early learning teachers are one of Florida’s first teachers. I am thrilled that the Governor continues to put an emphasis on early learning and values the contributions School Readiness and VPK have on our youth.”
More information about the budget is available at http://fightingforfloridasfuturebudget.com/HomeFY18.htm.