Early Learning Coalition launches new effort to increase Pre-K enrollment

By Dalia Dangerfield, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017, 4:21 PM EDT

The Early Learning Coalition is launching a new effort to get more kids enrolled in the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program.

  • Pinellas County launching effort for more Pre-K enrollment 
  • State-funded program to get kids prepared for kindergarten
  • Early Learning Coalition to air PSA on resources available for parents

The state-funded VPK program is designed to get kids prepared for kindergarten.

More than 6,000 are enrolled in VPK in Pinellas County this year.  However, administrators at the Early Learning Coalition said they are seeing lower participation among families who live near struggling schools.

The areas include Lealman, South St. Petersburg, and the Greenwood neighborhoods. 

Surveys have found many families can't afford the costs for childcare once the free VPK program is over each day. Others can't afford transportation, so they choose to have their children stay with relatives.

The Early Learning Coalition is working on a Public Service Announcement for the Bay area to talk about the Voluntary Pre-K program and scholarships and programs available to help offset the costs.

"We really want to make sure parents know what resources we have to help them," said Lindsay Carson, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition in Pinellas County. "Really, VPK is a program designed to support families and we just want families to know that resources are there."

The PSA will air in several Bay area counties. It's expected to be released in September.

The Early Learning Coalition will also launch a new social media campaign to spread the word about Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten.