Section 1009.64, Florida Statutes 2003
1009.64 Certified Education Paraprofessional Welfare Transition Program.--
(1) There is created the Certified Education Paraprofessional Welfare Transition Program to provide education and employment for recipients of public assistance who are certified to work in schools that, because of the high proportion of economically disadvantaged children enrolled, are at risk of poor performance on traditional measures of achievement. The program is designed to enable such schools to increase the number of adults working with the school children. However, the increase in personnel working at certain schools is intended to supplement and not to supplant the school staff and should not affect current school board employment and staffing policies, including those contained in collective bargaining agreements. The program is intended to be supported by local, state, and federal program funds for which the participants may be eligible. Further, the program is designed to provide its participants not only with entry-level employment but also with a marketable credential, a career option, and encouragement to advance.
(2) The Commissioner of Education, the secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services, and the director of the Agency for Workforce Innovation have joint responsibility for planning and conducting the program.
(3) The agencies responsible may make recommendations to the State Board of Education and the Legislature if they find that implementation or operation of the program would benefit from the adoption or waiver of state or federal policy, rule, or law, including recommendations regarding program budgeting.
(4) The agencies shall complete an implementation plan that addresses at least the following recommended components of the program:
(a) A method of selecting participants. The method must not duplicate services provided by those assigned to screen participants of the welfare transition program, but must assure that screening personnel are trained to identify recipients of public assistance whose personal aptitudes and motivation make them most likely to succeed in the program and advance in a career related to the school community.
(b) A budget for use of incentive funding to provide motivation to participants to succeed and excel. The budget for incentive funding includes:
1. Funds allocated by the Legislature directly for the program.
2. Funds that may be made available from the federal Workforce Investment Act based on client eligibility or requested waivers to make the clients eligible.
3. Funds made available by implementation strategies that would make maximum use of work supplementation funds authorized by federal law.
4. Funds authorized by strategies to lengthen participants' eligibility for federal programs such as Medicaid, subsidized child care, and transportation.
Incentives may include a stipend during periods of college classroom training, a bonus and recognition for a high grade-point average, child care and prekindergarten services for children of participants, and services to increase a participant's ability to advance to higher levels of employment. Nonfinancial incentives should include providing a mentor or tutor, and service incentives should continue and increase for any participant who plans to complete the baccalaureate degree and become a certified teacher. Services may be provided in accordance with family choice by community colleges and school district technical centers, through family service centers and full-service schools, or under contract with providers through central agencies.
(5) The agencies shall select Department of Children and Family Services districts to participate in the program. A district that wishes to participate must demonstrate that a district school board, a community college board of trustees, an economic services program administrator, and a regional workforce board are willing to coordinate to provide the educational program, support services, employment opportunities, and incentives required to fulfill the intent of this section.
(6)(a) A community college or school district technical center is eligible to participate if it provides a technical certificate program in Child Development Early Intervention as approved by Workforce Florida, Inc. Priority programs provide an option and incentives to articulate with an associate in science degree program or a baccalaureate degree program.
(b) A participating educational agency may earn funds appropriated for performance-based incentive funding for successful outcomes of enrollment and placement of recipients of public assistance who are in the program. In addition, an educational agency is eligible for an incentive award determined by Workforce Florida, Inc., for each recipient of public assistance who successfully completes a program leading to the award of a General Education Development credential.
(c) Historically black colleges or universities that have established programs that serve participants in the welfare transition program are eligible to participate in the Performance Based Incentive Funding Program and may earn an incentive award determined by Workforce Florida, Inc., for successful placement of program completers in jobs as education paraprofessionals in at-risk schools.
(7)(a) A participating school district shall identify at-risk schools in which the program participants will work during the practicum part of their education. For purposes of this act, an at-risk school is a school with grades K-3 in which 50 percent or more of the students enrolled at the school are eligible for free lunches or reduced-price lunches. Priority schools are schools whose service zones include the participants' own communities.
(b) A participating school district may use funds appropriated by the Legislature from Agency for Workforce Innovation regional workforce board allotments to provide at least 6 months of on-the-job training to participants in the Certified Education Paraprofessional Welfare Transition Program. Participating school districts may also use funds provided by grant diversion of funds from the welfare transition program for the participants during the practicum portion of their training to earn the certificate required for their employment.
(8) The agencies shall give priority for funding to those programs that provide maximum security for the long-range employment and career opportunities of the program participants. Security is enhanced if employment is provided through a governmental or nongovernmental agency other than the school board, or if the plans assure in another way that the participants will supplement, rather than supplant, the workforce available to the school board. It is the intent of the Legislature that, when a program participant succeeds in becoming a certified education paraprofessional after working successfully in a school during the practicum or on-the-job training supported by the program, the participant shall have the opportunity to continue in full-time employment at the school that provided the training or at another school in the district.
History.--s. 447, ch. 2002-387.