In November of 2002, Florida’s voters passed a constitutional amendment that would require Florida to create voluntary prekindergarten programs. By fall 2005, this program would be made available for all four-year-olds who wanted to participate. On January 2nd 2005, Governor Bush signed House Bill 1-A, to establish voluntary prekindergarten programs. Voluntary Prekindergarten is a program designed to prepare four-year-olds for kindergarten, and build a foundation for their educational success.
Voluntary Prekindergarten is just that-voluntary. Although no four-year-old is required to participate in voluntary prekindergarten, many benefits follow for the child, and even the parent. Voluntary prekindergarten is FREE to any child who is four by September 1st of the program year, and currently resides in Florida. No fees, such as registration or supply fees, shall be charged to the parent, if that child is attending voluntary prekindergarten only.
Voluntary Prekindergarten has two sessions; the school year and summer sessions. Eligible four-year-olds can attend EITHER session, but not both. Either sessions’ start dates vary by provider, but typically school year sessions start in August or September, and end in May or June, with 540 hours of VPK classroom time. Summer sessions are typically from June to August, with 300 hours of VPK classroom time. If a child starts either program later than the first day of attendance, the parent will need to sign a delayed enrollment form, verifying they are aware their child may not complete the full 540 or 300 hours. Parents are allowed to re-enroll their child ONE TIME during the session their child is attending, as long as the child has enough hours remaining.
Voluntary Prekindergarten is offered through many providers in the Okaloosa County and Walton County areas. Many of our Voluntary Prekindergarten providers follow the School Districts’ calendars (start date/holidays/breaks). Voluntary Prekindergarten is typically about 3 hours a day/5 days a week. This is not always the case however, so information on times and days is best asked through the specific provider(s) the parent is interested in using.
Voluntary Prekindergarten programs in Okaloosa and Walton counties are certified annually by the Early Learning Coalition of Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Each year, children leaving Voluntary Prekindergarten programs are screened when they enter kindergarten to determine their readiness for school. From these screening scores, each Voluntary Prekindergarten program is given a Readiness Rate based on the scores of the children enrolled in their program the previous year.
Click here to learn how to Apply for VPK either in office, or online. (Spanish Version)
Read About the New Law that will Extend VPK Eligibility
During the 2016 legislative session, House Bill 7029 was passed allowing parents whose children are born from Feb. 2 through Sep. 1 of a calendar year to defer enrolling their child in a VPK program for one year.
Current law provides that a child who is 4 years old on or before Sep. 1 of a school year becomes eligible for VPK that year. The new law extends eligibility for 4-year-olds with birthday from Feb. 2 through Sep. 1.
The law goes into effect July 1, 2016.
Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) Online Registration Available
Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program Parents who have completed registration for their child are ahead of the ball. The start date for programs may be as early as August 18, 2014 in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Many programs set start dates to coincide with the beginning of school in their respective School Districts. However, enrollment is continuous throughout the program year. A student may enroll after the program has begun.
Obtaining a VPK Eligibility CertificateIn order to be eligible for VPK services you must provide:
- An official Birth Certificate or other approved documentation that verifies your child will be four years old on or before September 1, 2015 (for the School Year 2015-2016). If applying for 2016-2017 school year, child would be four years old on or before September 1, 2016.
- Proof of Residency in the state of Florida.
- Residency may be verified by the following documentation containing the parent/guardian's name and address as submitted on the VPK Application:
- Utility bills
- Pay stubs
- Residential Rental Agreement/Receipt from rental payment
- Government documents
- Current Florida driver's license,
- Florida identification cards,
- Property tax assessment showing homestead exemption
- Military order showing parent of child is service member assigned to duty in Florida (during child's VPK attendance)
The online VPK registration process allows you to upload photos, copies of official birth certificates, utility bills, pay stubs, or other documents from your smart phone, computer or tablet.
If you have questions or need additional assistance, please call 833-9330.
Transfer hours are available as follows:
Fort Walton Beach:
Child Care Services (833-9330)
107 Tupelo Ave, S.E.
Monday - Thursday
Child Care Services (892-8560)
10 South 4th St.
Monday - Thursday