Letter from our Chief Executive Officer:
As of July 1, 2013, two Early Learning Coalitions serving the six-county area of North Florida have merged to serve the most children possible. The merging of these coalitions should be seamless to our stakeholders, which means no change or disruption in services for children and families and no disruption in reimbursement for providers. What merging does mean is a stronger coordination of resources and streamlined management of programs and administration.
We have always been fortunate to have an active, involved board of directors that are fully committed to the pursuit of quality early education and care for our children. The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) will maintain the same excellent representation on our Board of Directors and make this incredible transition to combine services into one contract, improve performance and utilize best practices in administering early education programs for the families of North Florida.
Beginning in 2005, Florida increased its investments in early learning with the implementation of the Florida Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program. However, access to School Readiness services for children of low -income working families has declined. Current School Readiness funding levels do not meet the needs of eligible children and families in Florida. In order to serve the 68,000 children on the statewide waiting list, with nearly 800 of those children here in North Florida, approximately $270 million in additional funding is required. With this merging in North Florida, we will do what we can to at least lessen the waiting list in our local communities.
ELC recognizes parents are children’s primary first teachers, but also acknowledges that by participating in quality school readiness/VPK programs children will be better prepared for school. If you are a parent, caregiver or educator of a child ages birth to pre-kindergarten in our counties, we can assist you.
Our mission is to manage and evaluate early childcare and education programs through a quality school readiness delivery system. As Chief Executive Officer, I have the privilege of working under an inspired local board and working with an incredibly committed staff. I am committed to continue working to assure the ELC is represented in all community venues to include working with the local Commissioners to build awareness of the impact our work has on the local economy in terms of assuring the workforce needed has access to quality early learning for their children.
Together, we will continue to identify and meet the needs of children and families to lay the foundation for lifetime success by maximizing each child’s potential, preparing children to enter school ready to learn while helping families achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Dawn Bell, Chief Executive Officer