Understanding Your Early Education Options for 0- to 5-Year-Old Children in Care

The chart below lays out the hours, calendars, and prices that are typical of each provider, but it is always best to check when you sign your child up.

There are five Early Education provider-types available:

School Readiness Provider

Participating providers accept the school readiness voucher, which subsidizes the cost of child care for children under protective supervision, among other groups. School readiness providers must be licensed, but also have to meet higher standards than basic licensing. They can be center-based or family child care homes.

Enrollment Age

Birth to five years old. Will vary by provider.

Out-of-Pocket Cost

Ask the child care provider.

The School Readiness Program covers much of the cost, but additional costs to the caregiver vary greatly by provider.

Daily Hours and Yearly Calendar

Depends on the provider. Call Child Care Resource & Referral, check the licensing website (https://cares.myflfamilies.com/PublicSearch), or call the provider directly.

Developmental Screen

School Readiness providers must do an Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) screener on the child within 45 days of enrollment and every six months thereafter.

Contact

Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK)

VPK is designed to prepare children for kindergarten. It includes standards for literacy skills, strict accountability, appropriate curricula, substantial instruction periods, manageable class sizes and qualified instructors. Providers can be center-based or family child care homes, or public schools.

Enrollment Age

Four years old by September 1 of the school year in which you are enrolling.

Out-of-Pocket Cost

Free.

Daily Hours and Yearly Calendar

You may choose only one of the following options for an eligible four-year-old:

  • School-year program for 540 hours over 180 days – usually about three hours a day, five days a week in the morning, but schedules vary; or
  • Summer program for 300 hours total - usually a full day, four to five days a week.

Developmental Screen

The VPK program does not require a developmental screen. The individual providers would use whatever tool is required by the other programs they may participate in, like School Readiness or Head Start.

Contact

Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Head Start/Early Head Start

Head Start and Early Head Start are locally-run, federal programs that offer comprehensive, quality early education to at-risk children. BOCC providers can be center-based or family child care homes (only YMCA and Lutheran Early Head Starts are in family child care homes).

Enrollment Age

Early Head Start: You can enroll a child between six weeks and their second birthday. Once enrolled, the program lasts until they are three years old. Head Start: three years old to five years old.

Out-of-Pocket Cost

Free.

Daily Hours and Yearly Calendar

Full-day (10.5 hours)/full-year, with a few weeks break about summertime and some other holidays.

Developmental Screen

BOCC Head Start providers use the Brigance developmental screener.

Contact

Hillsborough County Public School (HCPS) Head Start

Head Start is a locally-run, federal program that offers comprehensive, quality early education to at-risk children. HCPS providers operate at various elementary school sites.

Enrollment Age

Head Start: three years old to five years old.

Out-of-Pocket Cost

Free.

Daily Hours and Yearly Calendar

Part-day (6 hours)/part-year – these programs track the school calendar and day.

Developmental Screen

HCPS Head Start providers use the Brigance developmental screener.

Contact

Eckerd Early Head Start

Early Head Start is a locally-run, federal program that offers comprehensive, quality early education to at-risk children. Eckerd Early Head Start providers are family child care homes located in the 33604 and 33605 zip codes.

Enrollment Age

Early Head Start: You can enroll a child between six weeks and their second birthday. Once enrolled, the program lasts until they are three years old.

Out-of-Pocket Cost

Free.

Daily Hours and Yearly Calendar

8 a.m.-5 p.m., but individual providers may vary.

Developmental Screen

Eckerd Early Head Start screens development using the Brigance and/or Ages and Stages Questionnaire. They also use the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment to screen social-emotional development.

Contact

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.