Florida VPK options for your child in Pasco and Hernando counties

The Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties (ELCPH) supports and promotes quality education for every child in our community. Every child deserves the best possible resources to help them succeed, as do their caregivers and educators. Our expertise and commitment to early education will continue to propel us into the future as we strive to ensure a high-quality early childhood education for all children and families across our communities.

As the Coalition’s executive director, one of my favorite experiences is visiting childcare centers, accompanied in some cases by an executive board member or a community guest. A story is read to a class, and most importantly, we get a chance to connect with teachers and little learners. ELCPH invests year-round with training, conferences, and professional development programs that provide the tools for instructors to create the best possible learning environment for programs such as Florida VPK.

Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK)

Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) is a free, high-quality education program for all children who live in Florida and are 4 years old on or before Sept. 1 of each year. One of the leading indicators of school readiness for our children is VPK program participation. Florida was one of the first states in the country to offer free prekindergarten for all 4-year-olds regardless of family income. Since the program began in 2005, more than 2.5 million children have benefited from VPK.


Here are the available VPK program options:

VPK Summer Program

  • Led by instructors with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree
  • 300 instruction hours with class sizes not to exceed 12 students
  • Typical class day of 6-7 hours per weekday beginning in June

VPK School Year

  • Led by instructors with a minimum of a Child Development Associate (CDA) for the school year program
  • 540 instructional hours with class sizes not to exceed 20 students

VPK-SIS program (Specialized Instructional Services Education Program)

  • Takes place outside a traditional classroom setting
  • For 4-year-olds with special needs who have a current individualized educational plan (IEP) from their local school districts.


Parent Guidelines to Prepare Florida’s Children for a Successful Future!

  • LEARN about the Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards and why they matter for your child.
  • TALK about why Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards matter and what children will learn in the classroom with your child’s teachers.
  • LOCATE activities and resources to support your child’s learning in practical ways at home.
  • UNDERSTAND important educational (academic) words that you will see in your child’s grade-level standards. (Source: https://elcph.org/for-families/vpk/)


We recently rebranded with a new website and tagline “A Space to Grow.” We welcome parents to grow with us and visit our Families’ page which contains information about our education programs and community resources. Parents can apply for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) through the Family Portal at www.elcph.org or call our toll-free number to speak to a Family Services representative at 866-797-9444. Imagine what VPK can do for your child! Register today!

*Presented by Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties | Originally published in April 2023 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.