Child Care Help: What do I do if...

A child under supervision of Eckerd needs child care for the first time...

And I want a School Readiness Provider

  1. Case manager gives a caregiver School Readiness referral.
  2. Caregiver completes intake at the School Readiness office. If caregiver is a foster parent, they can complete intake online.
  3. Caregiver receives voucher.
  4. Caregiver must choose a provider within ten days of receiving the voucher.

In choosing a provider, utilize the Understanding your Early Education Options for 0- to 5-Year-Old Children in Care chart to find a program that can meet the caregiver’s needs and be sure to check the resources below to find a quality provider within that program. Remember that foster parents should choose a Gold Seal Accredited or other quality child care provider [see, Fla. Admin. Code 65C-13.030(2)(d)].

And I want a Head Start/Early Head Start Provider

  1. Complete a Head Start Application for the child and provide requested documentation.
  2. Head Start will contact you regarding your application status.

Need child care while an application is pending, you are on a waitlist, or for more hours than your Head Start or VPK provider offers? Use School Readiness as a wrap-around service.

And I want a VPK Provider

  1. Visit the website to complete an online application and upload requested documentation.
  2. If approved, print the voucher via email.
  3. Contact preferred provider about the enrollment process.

Need child care while an application is pending, you are on a waitlist, or for more hours than your Head Start or VPK provider offers? Use School Readiness as a wrap-around service.

I want to find a specific kind of child care provider (i.e. one that can assist medically-complex children); a child care provider in a specific location; or a child care provider with specific hours:

Call Child Care Resource and Referral: 813.906.5041. Leave a message indicating you are inquiring on behalf of a child in care and they will return your call within 24-48 hours with a list of child care centers meeting your requirements. Or, you can submit the online form.

NOTE: When you submit the online form, you need to put the parent/caregiver’s name and address, but YOUR email, phone, or fax, so that the information comes back to you directly.  Also, be sure to note that you are asking on behalf of a child in the child welfare system and need the information as quickly as possible.

I want to ensure the quality of the child care setting:

Find the provider on the following site on the Florida Department of Familes and Children's website. It’s easiest to search by zip code.

Once you locate the child care provider from the list generated by zip code, click on the provider name to see details about the program. Determine whether the provider participates in the quality programs Gold Seal Accreditation or Head Start/Early Head Start.

Check the “Inspection Reports” section to determine whether the provider has any serious Class 1 violations. Inspection reports with violations will be marked by a red dot.

If the provider is not participating in a quality program, visit the program and utilize the “A Quality Checklist for Evaluating Early Learning Programs” (available in the “Resources by Age Group – Ages 0 to 5” section of the Florida's Center for Child Welfare website) to determine whether the early education environment is quality.

I’m worried about my child’s development or speech/language skills, and my child is:

0 to 2 years, 10 months

Contact Early Steps: 813.974.0602.

2 years, 10 months to 5 years and they attend...

A School Readiness Provider

Ask your child’s teacher to contact School Readiness or call them yourself at: 813.744.8941.

A Head Start Provider

Talk to your program about evaluations and services they may be able to offer: Head Start BOCC, 813.272.5140; Head Start HCPS, 813.744.8941; Eckerd Early Head Start, 888.898.7978.

Neither a School Readiness nor a Head Start Provider

Contact Early Childhood Council for a free developmental screening at: 813.837.7753.

Still have questions?

If you live or have a case in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas or Sarasota counties, we may be able to help.

How do I apply? Am I eligible?

Call (800) 625-2257

to apply for service.

Or complete our online application

and we will call you back.