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Child development and brain research show that some of your baby's most important learning experiences happen in the first few years of life. We used to think of the brain as a sponge, but that's not really the case. It's more like an electrical system with new wires being connected all the time. When you laugh and talk and interact with your newborn and your toddler, you are helping to build that important system.
Children's thinking, emotional and social capabilities are like strings that come together to make a rope. Positive interactions with parents, siblings, relatives, child care teachers and friends build these strings into a strong rope. Florida's leaders recognize that early child development provides an essential foundation for the child's success and that successful children lead to long-term community and economic development.
Part of the Department of Education, the Office of Early Learning oversees day-to-day operations of statewide early learning programs. The state’s 30 regional early learning coalitions and the Redlands Christian Migrant Association are responsible for delivering local services.
You can contact the early learning coalition in your area to learn about programs such as these:
The School Readiness Program, funded by the federal Child Care and Development Fund Block Grant, helps low-income families at risk of needing temporary public assistance and those transitioning from public assistance to get child care so they can work or attend training or education programs. The Florida Legislature passed the School Readiness Act in 1999 to improve children’s chances of achieving future educational success.
The Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program prepares young learners for success in school and life. Mandated by the Florida Constitution, VPK originated from a 2002 ballot initiative. The program is a free, high-quality education program available to all 4-year-olds residing in Florida regardless of family income.
The Child Care Resource and Referral Program is a federal program to help families make informed choices, assist them in identifying and selecting quality early learning programs, and provide unbiased referrals for child care.
Find your county’s early learning coalition here.