July 15, 2018
Print This PagePrint This Page

  *
Session:
Bill #:
Session:
Chamber: View Search Tips
Search Term:
Year: View Search Tips
Search Term:
Select Year:
The Florida Statutes

The 2009 Florida Statutes

Title XXX
SOCIAL WELFARE
Chapter 411
HANDICAP OR HIGH-RISK CONDITION PREVENTION AND EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSISTANCE
View Entire Chapter
Section 411.01, Florida Statutes 2009

411.01  School readiness programs; early learning coalitions.--

(1)  SHORT TITLE.--This section may be cited as the "School Readiness Act."

(2)  LEGISLATIVE INTENT.--

(a)  The Legislature recognizes that school readiness programs increase children's chances of achieving future educational success and becoming productive members of society. It is the intent of the Legislature that the programs be developmentally appropriate, research-based, involve parents as their child's first teacher, serve as preventive measures for children at risk of future school failure, enhance the educational readiness of eligible children, and support family education. Each school readiness program shall provide the elements necessary to prepare at-risk children for school, including health screening and referral and an appropriate educational program.

(b)  It is the intent of the Legislature that school readiness programs be operated on a full-day, year-round basis to the maximum extent possible to enable parents to work and become financially self-sufficient.

(c)  It is the intent of the Legislature that school readiness programs not exist as isolated programs, but build upon existing services and work in cooperation with other programs for young children, and that school readiness programs be coordinated to achieve full effectiveness.

(d)  It is the intent of the Legislature that the administrative staff at the state level for school readiness programs be kept to the minimum necessary to administer the duties of the Agency for Workforce Innovation, as the school readiness programs are to be regionally designed, operated, and managed, with the Agency for Workforce Innovation developing school readiness program performance standards and outcome measures and approving and reviewing early learning coalitions and school readiness plans.

(e)  It is the intent of the Legislature that appropriations for combined school readiness programs shall not be less than the programs would receive in any fiscal year on an uncombined basis.

(f)  It is the intent of the Legislature that the school readiness program coordinate and operate in conjunction with the district school systems. However, it is also the intent of the Legislature that the school readiness program not be construed as part of the system of free public schools but rather as a separate program for children under the age of kindergarten eligibility, funded separately from the system of free public schools, utilizing a mandatory sliding fee scale, and providing an integrated and seamless system of school readiness services for the state's birth-to-kindergarten population.

(g)  It is the intent of the Legislature that the federal child care income tax credit be preserved for school readiness programs.

(h)  It is the intent of the Legislature that school readiness services shall be an integrated and seamless system of services with a developmentally appropriate education component for the state's eligible birth-to-kindergarten population described in subsection (6) and shall not be construed as part of the seamless K-20 education system.

(3)  PARENTAL PARTICIPATION IN SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAMS.--This section does not:

(a)  Relieve parents and guardians of their own obligations to prepare their children for school; or

(b)  Create any obligation to provide publicly funded school readiness programs or services beyond those authorized by the Legislature.

(4)  AGENCY FOR WORKFORCE INNOVATION.--

(a)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall administer school readiness programs at the state level and shall coordinate the early learning coalitions in providing school readiness services on a full-day, full-year, full-choice basis to the extent possible in order to enable parents to work and be financially self-sufficient.

(b)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall:

1.  Coordinate the birth-to-kindergarten services for children who are eligible under subsection (6) and the programmatic, administrative, and fiscal standards under this section for all public providers of school readiness programs.

2.  Continue to provide unified leadership for school readiness through early learning coalitions.

3.  Focus on improving the educational quality of all publicly funded school readiness programs.

(c)  For purposes of administration of the federal Child Care and Development Fund, 45 C.F.R. parts 98 and 99, the Agency for Workforce Innovation may be designated by the Governor as the lead agency and, if so designated, shall comply with the lead agency responsibilities under federal law.

(d)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall:

1.  Be responsible for the prudent use of all public and private funds in accordance with all legal and contractual requirements.

2.  Provide final approval and periodic review of early learning coalitions and school readiness plans.

3.  Provide leadership for the enhancement of school readiness in this state by aggressively establishing a unified approach to the state's efforts toward enhancement of school readiness. In support of this effort, the Agency for Workforce Innovation may develop and implement specific strategies that address the state's school readiness programs.

4.  Safeguard the effective use of federal, state, local, and private resources to achieve the highest possible level of school readiness for the children in this state.

5.  Provide technical assistance to early learning coalitions.

6.  Assess gaps in service.

7.  Provide technical assistance to counties that form a multicounty region served by an early learning coalition.

8.  Develop and adopt performance standards and outcome measures for school readiness programs. The performance standards must address the age-appropriate progress of children in the development of the school readiness skills required under paragraph (j). The performance standards for children from birth to 3 years of age in school readiness programs must be integrated with the performance standards adopted by the Department of Education for children in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program under s. 1002.67.

(e)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation may adopt rules under ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to administer the provisions of law conferring duties upon the agency, including, but not limited to, rules governing the preparation and implementation of the school readiness system, the collection of data, the approval of early learning coalitions and school readiness plans, the provision of a method whereby an early learning coalition may serve two or more counties, the award of incentives to early learning coalitions, and the issuance of waivers.

(f)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall have all powers necessary to administer this section, including, but not limited to, the power to receive and accept grants, loans, or advances of funds from any public or private agency and to receive and accept from any source contributions of money, property, labor, or any other thing of value, to be held, used, and applied for purposes of this section.

(g)  Except as provided by law, the Agency for Workforce Innovation may not impose requirements on a child care or early childhood education provider that does not deliver services under a school readiness program or receive state or federal funds under this section.

(h)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall have a budget for the school readiness system, which shall be financed through an annual appropriation made for purposes of this section in the General Appropriations Act.

(i)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall coordinate the efforts toward school readiness in this state and provide independent policy analyses and recommendations to the Governor, the State Board of Education, and the Legislature.

(j)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall require that each early learning coalition's school readiness program must, at a minimum, enhance the age-appropriate progress of each child in the development of the following school readiness skills:

1.  Compliance with rules, limitations, and routines.

2.  Ability to perform tasks.

3.  Interactions with adults.

4.  Interactions with peers.

5.  Ability to cope with challenges.

6.  Self-help skills.

7.  Ability to express the child's needs.

8.  Verbal communication skills.

9.  Problem-solving skills.

10.  Following of verbal directions.

11.  Demonstration of curiosity, persistence, and exploratory behavior.

12.  Interest in books and other printed materials.

13.  Paying attention to stories.

14.  Participation in art and music activities.

15.  Ability to identify colors, geometric shapes, letters of the alphabet, numbers, and spatial and temporal relationships.

The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall also require that, before a child is enrolled in an early learning coalition's school readiness program, the coalition must ensure that information is obtained by the coalition or the school readiness provider regarding the child's immunizations, physical development, and other health requirements as necessary, including appropriate vision and hearing screening and examinations.

(k)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall conduct studies and planning activities related to the overall improvement and effectiveness of the outcome measures adopted by the agency for school readiness programs.

(l)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall monitor and evaluate the performance of each early learning coalition in administering the school readiness program, implementing the coalition's school readiness plan, and administering the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program. These monitoring and performance evaluations must include, at a minimum, onsite monitoring of each coalition's finances, management, operations, and programs.

(m)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall identify best practices of early learning coalitions in order to improve the outcomes of school readiness programs.

(n)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall submit an annual report of its activities conducted under this section to the Governor, the executive director of the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the minority leaders of both houses of the Legislature. In addition, the Agency for Workforce Innovation's reports and recommendations shall be made available to the State Board of Education, the Florida Early Learning Advisory Council, other appropriate state agencies and entities, district school boards, central agencies, and county health departments. The annual report must provide an analysis of school readiness activities across the state, including the number of children who were served in the programs.

(o)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall work with the early learning coalitions to increase parents' training for and involvement in their children's preschool education and to provide family literacy activities and programs.

(5)  CREATION OF EARLY LEARNING COALITIONS.--

(a)  Early learning coalitions.--

1.  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall establish the minimum number of children to be served by each early learning coalition through the coalition's school readiness program. The Agency for Workforce Innovation may only approve school readiness plans in accordance with this minimum number. The minimum number must be uniform for every early learning coalition and must:

a.  Permit 30 or fewer coalitions to be established; and

b.  Require each coalition to serve at least 2,000 children based upon the average number of all children served per month through the coalition's school readiness program during the previous 12 months.

The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall adopt procedures for merging early learning coalitions, including procedures for the consolidation of merging coalitions, and for the early termination of the terms of coalition members which are necessary to accomplish the mergers. Each early learning coalition must comply with the merger procedures and shall be organized in accordance with this subparagraph by April 1, 2005. By June 30, 2005, each coalition must complete the transfer of powers, duties, functions, rules, records, personnel, property, and unexpended balances of appropriations, allocations, and other funds to the successor coalition, if applicable.

2.  If an early learning coalition would serve fewer children than the minimum number established under subparagraph 1., the coalition must merge with another county to form a multicounty coalition. However, the Agency for Workforce Innovation may authorize an early learning coalition to serve fewer children than the minimum number established under subparagraph 1., if:

a.  The coalition demonstrates to the Agency for Workforce Innovation that merging with another county or multicounty region contiguous to the coalition would cause an extreme hardship on the coalition;

b.  The Agency for Workforce Innovation has determined during the most recent annual review of the coalition's school readiness plan, or through monitoring and performance evaluations conducted under paragraph (4)(l), that the coalition has substantially implemented its plan and substantially met the performance standards and outcome measures adopted by the agency; and

c.  The coalition demonstrates to the Agency for Workforce Innovation the coalition's ability to effectively and efficiently implement the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program.

If an early learning coalition fails or refuses to merge as required by this subparagraph, the Agency for Workforce Innovation may dissolve the coalition and temporarily contract with a qualified entity to continue school readiness and prekindergarten services in the coalition's county or multicounty region until the coalition is reestablished through resubmission of a school readiness plan and approval by the agency.

3.  Notwithstanding the provisions of subparagraphs 1. and 2., the early learning coalitions in Sarasota, Osceola, and Santa Rosa Counties which were in operation on January 1, 2005, are established and authorized to continue operation as independent coalitions, and shall not be counted within the limit of 30 coalitions established in subparagraph 1.

4.  Each early learning coalition shall be composed of at least 18 members but not more than 35 members. The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall adopt standards establishing within this range the minimum and maximum number of members that may be appointed to an early learning coalition. These standards must include variations for a coalition serving a multicounty region. Each early learning coalition must comply with these standards.

5.  The Governor shall appoint the chair and two other members of each early learning coalition, who must each meet the same qualifications as private sector business members appointed by the coalition under subparagraph 7.

6.  Each early learning coalition must include the following members:

a.  A Department of Children and Family Services district administrator or his or her designee who is authorized to make decisions on behalf of the department.

b.  A district superintendent of schools or his or her designee who is authorized to make decisions on behalf of the district, who shall be a nonvoting member.

c.  A regional workforce board executive director or his or her designee.

d.  A county health department director or his or her designee.

e.  A children's services council or juvenile welfare board chair or executive director, if applicable, who shall be a nonvoting member if the council or board is the fiscal agent of the coalition or if the council or board contracts with and receives funds from the coalition for any purpose other than rent.

f.  An agency head of a local licensing agency as defined in s. 402.302, where applicable.

g.  A president of a community college or his or her designee.

h.  One member appointed by a board of county commissioners.

i.  A central agency administrator, where applicable, who shall be a nonvoting member.

j.  A Head Start director, who shall be a nonvoting member.

k.  A representative of private child care providers, including family day care homes, who shall be a nonvoting member.

l.  A representative of faith-based child care providers, who shall be a nonvoting member.

m.  A representative of programs for children with disabilities under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, who shall be a nonvoting member.

7.  Including the members appointed by the Governor under subparagraph 5., more than one-third of the members of each early learning coalition must be private sector business members who do not have, and none of whose relatives as defined in s. 112.3143 has, a substantial financial interest in the design or delivery of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program created under part V of chapter 1002 or the coalition's school readiness program. To meet this requirement an early learning coalition must appoint additional members from a list of nominees submitted to the coalition by a chamber of commerce or economic development council within the geographic region served by the coalition. The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall establish criteria for appointing private sector business members. These criteria must include standards for determining whether a member or relative has a substantial financial interest in the design or delivery of the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program or the coalition's school readiness program.

8.  A majority of the voting membership of an early learning coalition constitutes a quorum required to conduct the business of the coalition. An early learning coalition board may use any method of telecommunications to conduct meetings, including establishing a quorum through telecommunications, provided that the public is given proper notice of a telecommunications meeting and reasonable access to observe and, when appropriate, participate.

9.  A voting member of an early learning coalition may not appoint a designee to act in his or her place, except as otherwise provided in this paragraph. A voting member may send a representative to coalition meetings, but that representative does not have voting privileges. When a district administrator for the Department of Children and Family Services appoints a designee to an early learning coalition, the designee is the voting member of the coalition, and any individual attending in the designee's place, including the district administrator, does not have voting privileges.

10.  Each member of an early learning coalition is subject to ss. 112.313, 112.3135, and 112.3143. For purposes of s. 112.3143(3)(a), each voting member is a local public officer who must abstain from voting when a voting conflict exists.

11.  For purposes of tort liability, each member or employee of an early learning coalition shall be governed by s. 768.28.

12.  An early learning coalition serving a multicounty region must include representation from each county.

13.  Each early learning coalition shall establish terms for all appointed members of the coalition. The terms must be staggered and must be a uniform length that does not exceed 4 years per term. Appointed members may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. When a vacancy occurs in an appointed position, the coalition must advertise the vacancy.

(b)  Program participation.--The school readiness program shall be established for children from birth to the beginning of the school year for which a child is eligible for admission to kindergarten in a public school under s. 1003.21(1)(a)2. The program shall be administered by the early learning coalition. Within funding limitations, the early learning coalition, along with all providers, shall make reasonable efforts to accommodate the needs of children for extended-day and extended-year services without compromising the quality of the program.

(c)  Program expectations.--

1.  The school readiness program must meet the following expectations:

a.  The program must, at a minimum, enhance the age-appropriate progress of each child in the development of the school readiness skills required under paragraph (4)(j), as measured by the performance standards and outcome measures adopted by the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

b.  The program must provide extended-day and extended-year services to the maximum extent possible to meet the needs of parents who work.

c.  There must be coordinated staff development and teaching opportunities.

d.  There must be expanded access to community services and resources for families to help achieve economic self-sufficiency.

e.  There must be a single point of entry and unified waiting list. As used in this sub-subparagraph, the term "single point of entry" means an integrated information system that allows a parent to enroll his or her child in the school readiness program at various locations throughout the county or multicounty region served by an early learning coalition, that may allow a parent to enroll his or her child by telephone or through an Internet website, and that uses a unified waiting list to track eligible children waiting for enrollment in the school readiness program. The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall establish a single statewide information system that integrates each early learning coalition's single point of entry, and each coalition must use the statewide system.

f.  The Agency for Workforce Innovation must consider the access of eligible children to the school readiness program, as demonstrated in part by waiting lists, before approving a proposed increase in payment rates submitted by an early learning coalition. In addition, early learning coalitions shall use school readiness funds made available due to enrollment shifts from school readiness programs to the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program for increasing the number of children served in school readiness programs before increasing payment rates.

g.  There must be a community plan to address the needs of all eligible children.

h.  The program must meet all state licensing guidelines, where applicable.

2.  The early learning coalition must implement a comprehensive program of school readiness services that enhance the cognitive, social, and physical development of children to achieve the performance standards and outcome measures adopted by the Agency for Workforce Innovation. At a minimum, these programs must contain the following elements:

a.  Developmentally appropriate curriculum designed to enhance the age-appropriate progress of children in attaining the performance standards adopted by the Agency for Workforce Innovation under subparagraph (4)(d)8.

b.  A character development program to develop basic values.

c.  An age-appropriate assessment of each child's development.

d.  A pretest administered to children when they enter a program and a posttest administered to children when they leave the program.

e.  An appropriate staff-to-children ratio.

f.  A healthy and safe environment.

g.  A resource and referral network to assist parents in making an informed choice.

(d)  Implementation.--

1.  An early learning coalition may not implement the school readiness program until the coalition is authorized through approval of the coalition's school readiness plan by the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

2.  Each early learning coalition shall develop a plan for implementing the school readiness program to meet the requirements of this section and the performance standards and outcome measures adopted by the Agency for Workforce Innovation. The plan must demonstrate how the program will ensure that each 3-year-old and 4-year-old child in a publicly funded school readiness program receives scheduled activities and instruction designed to enhance the age-appropriate progress of the children in attaining the performance standards adopted by the Agency for Workforce Innovation under subparagraph (4)(d)8. Before implementing the school readiness program, the early learning coalition must submit the plan to the Agency for Workforce Innovation for approval. The Agency for Workforce Innovation may approve the plan, reject the plan, or approve the plan with conditions. The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall review school readiness plans at least annually.

3.  If the Agency for Workforce Innovation determines during the annual review of school readiness plans, or through monitoring and performance evaluations conducted under paragraph (4)(l), that an early learning coalition has not substantially implemented its plan, has not substantially met the performance standards and outcome measures adopted by the agency, or has not effectively administered the school readiness program or Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, the Agency for Workforce Innovation may dissolve the coalition and temporarily contract with a qualified entity to continue school readiness and prekindergarten services in the coalition's county or multicounty region until the coalition is reestablished through resubmission of a school readiness plan and approval by the agency.

4.  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall adopt criteria for the approval of school readiness plans. The criteria must be consistent with the performance standards and outcome measures adopted by the agency and must require each approved plan to include the following minimum standards and provisions:

a.  A sliding fee scale establishing a copayment for parents based upon their ability to pay, which is the same for all program providers, to be implemented and reflected in each program's budget.

b.  A choice of settings and locations in licensed, registered, religious-exempt, or school-based programs to be provided to parents.

c.  Instructional staff who have completed the training course as required in s. 402.305(2)(d)1., as well as staff who have additional training or credentials as required by the Agency for Workforce Innovation. The plan must provide a method for assuring the qualifications of all personnel in all program settings.

d.  Specific eligibility priorities for children within the early learning coalition's county or multicounty region in accordance with subsection (6).

e.  Performance standards and outcome measures adopted by the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

f.  Payment rates adopted by the early learning coalition and approved by the Agency for Workforce Innovation. Payment rates may not have the effect of limiting parental choice or creating standards or levels of services that have not been authorized by the Legislature.

g.  Systems support services, including a central agency, child care resource and referral, eligibility determinations, training of providers, and parent support and involvement.

h.  Direct enhancement services to families and children. System support and direct enhancement services shall be in addition to payments for the placement of children in school readiness programs.

i.  The business organization of the early learning coalition, which must include the coalition's articles of incorporation and bylaws if the coalition is organized as a corporation. If the coalition is not organized as a corporation or other business entity, the plan must include the contract with a fiscal agent. An early learning coalition may contract with other coalitions to achieve efficiency in multicounty services, and these contracts may be part of the coalition's school readiness plan.

j.  Strategies to meet the needs of unique populations, such as migrant workers.

As part of the school readiness plan, the early learning coalition may request the Governor to apply for a waiver to allow the coalition to administer the Head Start Program to accomplish the purposes of the school readiness program. If a school readiness plan demonstrates that specific statutory goals can be achieved more effectively by using procedures that require modification of existing rules, policies, or procedures, a request for a waiver to the Agency for Workforce Innovation may be submitted as part of the plan. Upon review, the Agency for Workforce Innovation may grant the proposed modification.

5.  Persons with an early childhood teaching certificate may provide support and supervision to other staff in the school readiness program.

6.  An early learning coalition may not implement its school readiness plan until it submits the plan to and receives approval from the Agency for Workforce Innovation. Once the plan is approved, the plan and the services provided under the plan shall be controlled by the early learning coalition. The plan shall be reviewed and revised as necessary, but at least biennially. An early learning coalition may not implement the revisions until the coalition submits the revised plan to and receives approval from the Agency for Workforce Innovation. If the Agency for Workforce Innovation rejects a revised plan, the coalition must continue to operate under its prior approved plan.

7.  Sections 125.901(2)(a)3., 411.221, and 411.232 do not apply to an early learning coalition with an approved school readiness plan. To facilitate innovative practices and to allow the regional establishment of school readiness programs, an early learning coalition may apply to the Governor and Cabinet for a waiver of, and the Governor and Cabinet may waive, any of the provisions of ss. 411.223, 411.232, and 1003.54, if the waiver is necessary for implementation of the coalition's school readiness plan.

8.  Two or more counties may join for purposes of planning and implementing a school readiness program.

9.  An early learning coalition may, subject to approval by the Agency for Workforce Innovation as part of the coalition's school readiness plan, receive subsidized child care funds for all children eligible for any federal subsidized child care program.

10.  An early learning coalition may enter into multiparty contracts with multicounty service providers in order to meet the needs of unique populations such as migrant workers.

(e)  Requests for proposals; payment schedule.--

1.  Each early learning coalition must comply with s. 287.057 for the procurement of commodities or contractual services from the funds described in paragraph (9)(d). The period of a contract for purchase of these commodities or contractual services, together with any renewal of the original contract, may not exceed 3 years.

2.  Each early learning coalition shall adopt a payment schedule that encompasses all programs funded by the coalition under this section. The payment schedule must take into consideration the relevant market rate, must include the projected number of children to be served, and must be submitted for approval by the Agency for Workforce Innovation. Informal child care arrangements shall be reimbursed at not more than 50 percent of the rate developed for a family day care home.

(f)  Requirements relating to fiscal agents.--If an early learning coalition is not legally organized as a corporation or other business entity, the coalition must designate a fiscal agent, which may be a public entity, a private nonprofit organization, or a certified public accountant who holds a license under chapter 473. The fiscal agent must provide financial and administrative services under a contract with the early learning coalition. The fiscal agent may not provide direct early childhood education or child care services; however, a fiscal agent may provide those services upon written request of the early learning coalition to the Agency for Workforce Innovation and upon the approval of the request by the agency. The cost of the financial and administrative services shall be negotiated between the fiscal agent and the early learning coalition. If the fiscal agent is a provider of early childhood education and child care programs, the contract must specify that the fiscal agent shall act on policy direction from the early learning coalition and must not receive policy direction from its own corporate board regarding disbursal of the coalition's funds. The fiscal agent shall disburse funds in accordance with the early learning coalition's approved school readiness plan and based on billing and disbursement procedures approved by the Agency for Workforce Innovation. The fiscal agent must conform to all data-reporting requirements established by the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

(g)  Evaluation and annual report.--Each early learning coalition shall conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of the school readiness program, including performance standards and outcome measures, and shall provide an annual report and fiscal statement to the Agency for Workforce Innovation. This report must conform to the content and format specifications set by the Agency for Workforce Innovation. The Agency for Workforce Innovation must include an analysis of the early learning coalitions' reports in the agency's annual report.

(6)  PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY.--Each early learning coalition's school readiness program shall be established for children from birth to the beginning of the school year for which a child is eligible for admission to kindergarten in a public school under s. 1003.21(1)(a)2. Priority for participation in the school readiness program shall be given to children age 3 years to school entry who are served by the Family Safety Program Office of the Department of Children and Family Services or a community-based lead agency under chapter 39 and for whom child care is needed to minimize risk of further abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Other eligible populations include children who meet one or more of the following criteria:

(a)  Children under the age of kindergarten eligibility who are:

1.  Children determined to be at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation who are currently clients of the Family Safety Program Office of the Department of Children and Family Services, but who are not otherwise given priority under this subsection.

2.  Children at risk of welfare dependency, including economically disadvantaged children, children of participants in the welfare transition program, children of migrant farmworkers, and children of teen parents.

3.  Children of working families whose family income does not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

4.  Children for whom the state is paying a relative caregiver payment under s. 39.5085.

(b)  Three-year-old children and 4-year-old children who may not be economically disadvantaged but who have disabilities, have been served in a specific part-time or combination of part-time exceptional education programs with required special services, aids, or equipment, and were previously reported for funding part time with the Florida Education Finance Program as exceptional students.

(c)  Economically disadvantaged children, children with disabilities, and children at risk of future school failure, from birth to 4 years of age, who are served at home through home visitor programs and intensive parent education programs.

(d)  Children who meet federal and state eligibility requirements for the migrant preschool program but who do not meet the criteria of economically disadvantaged.

As used in this subsection, the term "economically disadvantaged" child means a child whose family income does not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Notwithstanding any change in a family's economic status, but subject to additional family contributions in accordance with the sliding fee scale, a child who meets the eligibility requirements upon initial registration for the program remains eligible until the beginning of the school year for which the child is eligible for admission to kindergarten in a public school under s. 1003.21(1)(a)2.

(7)  PARENTAL CHOICE.--

(a)  The school readiness program shall provide parental choice through a purchase service order that ensures, to the maximum extent possible, flexibility in school readiness programs and payment arrangements. According to federal regulations requiring parental choice, a parent may choose an informal child care arrangement. The purchase order must bear the name of the beneficiary and the program provider and, when redeemed, must bear the signature of both the beneficiary and an authorized representative of the provider.

(b)  If it is determined that a provider has provided any cash to the beneficiary in return for receiving the purchase order, the early learning coalition or its fiscal agent shall refer the matter to the Division of Public Assistance Fraud for investigation.

(c)  The office of the Chief Financial Officer shall establish an electronic transfer system for the disbursement of funds in accordance with this subsection. Each early learning coalition shall fully implement the electronic funds transfer system within 2 years after approval of the coalition's school readiness plan, unless a waiver is obtained from the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

(8)  STANDARDS; OUTCOME MEASURES.--All school readiness programs must meet the performance standards and outcome measures adopted by the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

(9)  FUNDING; SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAM.--

(a)  It is the intent of this section to establish an integrated and quality seamless service delivery system for all publicly funded early childhood education and child care programs operating in this state.

(b)1.  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall administer school readiness funds, plans, and policies and shall prepare and submit a unified budget request for the school readiness system in accordance with chapter 216.

2.  All instructions to early learning coalitions for administering this section shall emanate from the Agency for Workforce Innovation in accordance with the policies of the Legislature.

(c)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall recommend a formula for the allocation among the early learning coalitions of all state and federal school readiness funds for children participating in public or private school readiness programs based upon equity and performance. The allocation formula must be submitted to the Governor, the chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee or its successor, and the chair of the House of Representatives Fiscal Council or its successor no later than January 1 of each year. The Legislature shall specify in the annual General Appropriations Act any changes from the allocation methodology for the prior fiscal year which must be used by the Agency for Workforce Innovation in allocating the appropriations provided in the General Appropriations Act.

(d)  All state, federal, and required local maintenance-of-effort or matching funds provided to an early learning coalition for purposes of this section shall be used by the coalition for implementation of its school readiness plan, including the hiring of staff to effectively operate the coalition's school readiness program. As part of plan approval and periodic plan review, the Agency for Workforce Innovation shall require that administrative costs be kept to the minimum necessary for efficient and effective administration of the school readiness plan, but total administrative expenditures must not exceed 5 percent unless specifically waived by the Agency for Workforce Innovation. The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall annually report to the Legislature any problems relating to administrative costs.

(e)  The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall annually distribute, to a maximum extent practicable, all eligible funds provided under this section as block grants to the early learning coalitions.

(f)  State funds appropriated for the school readiness program may not be used for the construction of new facilities or the purchase of buses. The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall present to the Legislature recommendations for providing necessary transportation services for school readiness programs.

(g)  All cost savings and all revenues received through a mandatory sliding fee scale shall be used to help fund each early learning coalition's school readiness program.

(10)  CONFLICTING PROVISIONS.--In the event of a conflict between this section and federal requirements, the federal requirements shall control.

(11)  PLACEMENTS.--Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, the first children to be placed in the school readiness program shall be those from families receiving temporary cash assistance and subject to federal work requirements. Subsequent placements shall be made in accordance with subsection (6).

History.--s. 1, ch. 99-357; s. 65, ch. 2000-139; s. 1, ch. 2000-149; s. 97, ch. 2000-165; s. 12, ch. 2000-337; s. 55, ch. 2001-62; s. 13, ch. 2001-89; s. 20, ch. 2001-170; s. 114, ch. 2001-266; s. 4, ch. 2002-38; s. 998, ch. 2002-387; ss. 59, 79, ch. 2002-402; s. 48, ch. 2003-1; s. 453, ch. 2003-261; s. 3, ch. 2003-292; s. 74, ch. 2003-399; s. 49, ch. 2004-269; s. 2, ch. 2004-484; s. 2, ch. 2005-56; s. 2, ch. 2006-17; ss. 40, 41, 53, ch. 2006-26; s. 2, ch. 2008-196.

Site Map
Session:   Bills ·   Calendars ·   Bound Journals ·   Citator ·   Search ·   Appropriations ·   Redistricting ·   Bill Information Reports
Committee Publications
Historical Information
Statutes:   Introduction ·   View Statutes ·   Search Statutes
Flsenate.gov
Disclaimer: The information on this system is unverified. The journals or printed bills of the respective chambers should be consulted for official purposes.    Copyright © 2000-2018 State of Florida.     Privacy Statement     Contact Us     Get Acrobat Reader