Historic funding increase for Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program

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Florida — The Florida Senate budget released February 3 includes a historic funding increase for Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program.

Under the Senate’s proposal, the Legislature would make an additional investment of nearly $400 million in Florida’s VPK program over the next three years. This would increase funding from the current rate of $2,486 per student to $3,294 per student.

The Early Learning Coalition of Marion County (ELCMC) commends this proposal as a sign of the Florida Senate’s commitment to early education and VPK teacher wage increases.

ELCMC Board Chair, Robert Colen, said, “This is an important step in strengthening the early education industry workforce and ensuring every child is ready to succeed in school.”

Colen thanked Senate Appropriations Committee Members Dennis Baxley and Keith Perry for their leadership.

“This is huge,” said ELCMC Board Member and Ocala Play Academy Owner Traci England.

“People don’t realize how important VPK is. It really sets children off on the right path on their educational journey. And having the right educator in the classroom is key to that journey. Being able to raise salaries helps early education and care centers recruit and retain quality teachers, who also have to make decisions that are best for their families. This is something that will make our community better.”

The Early Learning Coalition of Marion County provides families with access to quality early learning programs that nurture children’s learning potential and prepare them for their educational success.

The Coalition’s mission is to provide leadership and foster partnerships to optimize a quality early learning environment for our children through child care, voluntary pre-kindergarten, and parent education. For more information, call 352-369-2315 or visit elc-marion.org.