The Early Learning Coalition of the Nature Coast oversees the School Readiness Program in Citrus, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, and Sumter Counties in Florida. School Readiness Programs increase children’s chances of achieving future educational success and becoming productive members of society. The Florida School Readiness Program offers financial assistance to low-income families for early education and care so they can become financially self-sufficient and their young children can be successful in the future.
Children age six weeks to kindergarten entry enrolled in the School Readiness Program are provided with early education programs developing the preschool skills necessary for a successful school experience in the years to come. The early childhood education program includes age-appropriate activities focusing on the child’s physical development, social and emotional development, language communication and emergent literacy, and cognitive development. Children participate in a wide variety of activities that serve to develop skills in the areas of mathematical thinking, scientific inquiry, alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, social studies, creative expression, and character development. This early childhood education takes place at privately-owned child care facilities throughout Citrus, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, and Sumter Counties who have applied for and been approved to deliver the School Readiness Program in their facility. The Early Learning Coalition of the Nature Coast currently contracts with 102 child care facilities throughout our 5-county area to deliver the School Readiness Program. Services vary based on the individual need of the family and range from part time child care a few days a week to extended day care seven days a week. The School Readiness Program strives to ensure that child care opportunities exist to meet the unique needs of working parents.
The School Readiness Program is not limited to preschool children. School-age children are also eligible to participate in the School Readiness Program until their 13th birthday. School Readiness services are provided with after-school programs located at these same child care facilities throughout our service area. A School Readiness after-school program provides the student assistance with completion of daily homework assignments in a safe environment while the parent completes their workday. In addition to homework time, the after-school students are provided with a nutritious snack and time for socialization with their friends. School Readiness Program funding also covers full day care on school holidays and summer breaks.
The School Readiness Program targets at-risk children of low-income parents. The primary goals of the School Readiness Program are to prepare at-risk children for kindergarten through appropriate early learning activities beginning in infancy and to assist low income parents in achieving self-sufficiency through subsidizing their child care costs.
Children enrolled in the School Readiness Program come from one of two at-risk populations which are: children under the State’s supervision due to abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and children from low income homes that often receive public assistance.
Eligibility and enrollment services for the School Readiness Program are provided at our Crystal River office for families who reside in Citrus County, FL. Our Crystal River office is located at 382 N. Suncoast Blvd., Crystal River, FL. Citrus County residents applying for the School Readiness Program will attend a scheduled appointment at our Crystal River office to complete their enrollment documents and choose a child care facility that is contracted to serve School Readiness families. We also operate an office in Chiefland, FL for families residing in Dixie, Gilchrist, and Levy counties and another office in Sumterville, FL for our families residing in Sumter County.
Currently there are 1,989 at-risk children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 12 years enrolled in the School Readiness Programs throughout our 5-county area. There are no children on the waiting list at this time.
The General Appropriations Act requires match funding from local sources for economically disadvantaged eligible participants in the School Readiness Program. Based on current enrollment, which can fluctuate daily, the current match need for our 5-county service area is $148,719.66. Match funds collected by the Early Learning Coalitions assist Florida’s Office of Early Learning in obtaining sufficient funding to draw down available federal matching funds. It is important to note that for every dollar donated locally, the Early Learning Coalition receives $15.67 in federal matching funds. The Early Learning Coalition of the Nature Coast will work with local government, civic groups, and private individuals to secure the necessary funds.
The Early Learning Coalition of the Nature Coast oversees the School Readiness Program in Citrus, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, and Sumter Counties in Florida. School Readiness Programs increase children’s chances of achieving future…