The Division of Early Learning recently released a plan to spend significant pandemic relief funds to bolster early learning centers and family child care homes–as well as directly support educators. The Children’s Movement of Florida was pleased to play a role in influencing the spending plan, together with partners in Florida’s Early Learning Consortium. (If you are eligible for funding and have questions, your local early learning coalition will be the best resource for you!)
For now, here’s what we know:
- $57.7 million will be allocated to cover differential payments for Gold Seal providers. These are additional reimbursements provided to recognize accredited early learning programs in Florida who contract with the state for the School Readiness program.
These funds, the last of the CARES and CRRSA funding rounds, would otherwise have expired in September.
- $685.4 million will be allocated as direct grants to ANY child care provider operating in Florida (whether or not they are contracted with the state).
- A base grant is determined by the number of children enrolled
- Supplemental bonuses may be added for high quality (as measured by CLASS evaluation scores or Gold Seal designation), offering care during non-traditional hours, and/or a commitment to investing in the early learning workforce
- An additional $34.3 million covers associated administrative costs for these grants and other supply-building or technical assistance activities.
- $83.7 million will be allocated to “Build a World Class Workforce and Strengthen Adult-Child Interaction.” This includes:
- $11.1 million to support the recruitment and training of 7,500 new early learning educators. New hires will be eligible for several cash bonuses as they are onboarded and complete required training.
- $2.4 million to upskill 2,500 early learning directors, with cash bonuses to support their continued professional development.
- $70.2 million to elevate Florida’s early learning workforce, with grants available to reward educators (and their directors) for completing DEL-approved training on adult-child interactions, grants to support training or up-skilling for programs already demonstrating high-quality, and additional funds to address local needs.
- This brings the total pandemic relief funds allocated for early learning in Florida to $2.6 billion.
- $703 million remains available for future priorities and must be allocated by September 2023.
Here is a brief summary of the spending priorities so far:
|CARES Act||CRRSA||ARPA Stabilization Fund||ARPA Supplemental Discretionary|
|Grants to early learning/family child care programs||$77,739,833||$377,791,681||$1,439,336,851|
|Child care for first responders & health care workers||$106,385,850|
|Direct payments to educators (Two $1,000 bonuses)||$163,352,645|
|2020 Rising Kindergarten Summer Program||$10,596,840|
|Progress Monitoring Pilot Program/VPK Star Early Literacy||$1,908,069|
|VPK provider closures + parent copayments for School Readiness||$17,531,292||$2,144,599|
|Program Outreach, Awareness and Family Supports||$5,642,269|
|Workforce Support/Upskilling for Educators||$33,235,355||$83,770,927|
|Early Literacy Microcredentials||$30,000,000|
|School Readiness Differential Payments (Gold Seal, Special Needs, QPI)||$9,443,305||$57,756,337||$48,000,358|
|School Readiness Community Sustainability Funding||$71,157,770|
|VPK Wage Incentive Program ($15/hour)||$100,000,000|