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Report to the Community

Message from our Chair It has been my pleasure to serve as the Chair of the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County. The Early Learning Coalition has made great strides in fulfilling the comprehensive legislative mandates for which the Coalition is responsible on a local level. These mandates were designed to ensure that all Sarasota children are ready for school and that our early childhood providers have the tools and support needed to offer high quality child care. I am proud to continue the cooperative opportunities that we have begun with many of our community partners to reach these goals. We offer an array of services to support our local child care providers, including mentoring, scholarships for education, sponsoring a variety of trainings, an infanttoddler project, and literacy initiatives. These services are well received and highly appreciated by our providers. We still feel the need to continue to address the turnover in the child care industry and to help our providers offer the best curriculum and family support that may be possible. The work of the past year has shown us the incredible power of community partnerships and that by working together we can usually accomplish just what we have set out to do. I am proud to shepherd the efforts towards these goals and am humbled by the opportunity to do so. Because of the commitment of our Board, the shared desires of the community and the willingness to share our resources, our children face a brighter day and endless opportunities.

Laura Benson Chair

History The Florida Legislature created the original School Readiness Programs in 1999 and the subsequent Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program in January 2005 because it recognized that effective school readiness programs increase children’s chances of achieving future educational success and provide a foundation for lifelong success. The goal was to better utilize public funds to benefit preschool children, especially those identified as most at risk of future school failure. Both the School Readiness Act and the Voluntary PreKindergarten legislation outlined a number of responsibilities that were assigned to Coalitions to implement at the local level to improve the quality standards of local child care sites and school readiness outcomes for children.

The local Early Learning Coalition was established in May 2000 and currently administers a program of more than $11 million of local, state and federal funds that support quality child care and provide child care scholarships to local income-eligible families and the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program (VPK) for all eligible four year olds to increase the readiness of children to begin Kindergarten The Coalition oversees a broad range of support services to ensure a system of high quality child care and preschool education for all children in Sarasota County. The Coalition serves well over 3,000 children each year and assists over 250 child care providers to create and maintain high quality early learning environments.

Overview of Services •  Offer comprehensive Resource and Referral Services related to locating quality child care options in Sarasota County •  Administer School Readiness scholarships for preschool and child care for income-eligible families •  Administer the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) program • Ensure  that local child care providers meet legislatively-mandated requirements related to curriculum, developmentally appropriate practices and Florida Educational Standards and support the message that parents are their • Reinforce  child’s first teacher •  Oversee the implementation of a new local Quality Rating Improvement System for child care providers to support high quality early learning environments •  Sponsor an Annual Provider Conference and community-wide trainings on topics such as literacy, curriculum and social emotional development •  Provide individualized classroom consultations to assist preschool teachers and child care providers with children they are concerned about •  Maintain a Resource Room for providers with a variety of materials, activities and books to support professional growth and development •  Offer developmental, hearing and vision screenings for children • Offer  on-site technical assistance/mentoring to assist directors and teachers with a variety of topics such as appropriate practices, classroom management, room arrangement, routines, and child care management issues •  Purchase curriculum and other program materials mini-grants and educational scholarships for • Offer  preschool teachers •  Distribute a monthly newsletter and comprehensive training calendar to keep providers informed about workshops and activities •  Offer targeted initiatives on literacy, infant care & mental health of children •  Operate a program that recruits, trains and places classroom-ready substitute teachers in participating centers

COUNTYWIDE KINDERGARTEN READINESS Upon entry to Kindergarten in Fall 2007, 2,753 children in Sarasota County were screened on the statewide tools to measure school readiness and early literacy. The ECHOS, or Early Childhood Observation Screener, showed that 88% of Sarasota children were considered to be “ready for school.” This is consistent with the statewide readiness rates. DIBELS, Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, a test that measures two components of early literacy skills shows that 70% of Sarasota County children entering Kindergarten, on average, were considered to be at full readiness for learning reading skills in Kindergarten. This is also consistent with the State average. The first and second years of the readiness rates for children specifically attending the Voluntary PreKindergarten program showed a very high number of Sarasota VPK sites in the highest performance quartile.

“I value the long term relationship with staff” —a provider (about their relationship and the support received from the ELC)

Accomplishments “The Early Learning Coalition provides me help with child care so that I can work and finish school; it helps my daughter and I to learn together.” —a parent

New initiatives implemented to support early learning providers and improve child outcomes • C  ommunity funders and leaders came together with the Early Learning Coalition to invest in the Look for the Stars initiative, a comprehensive research-based Quality Rating Improvement System that supports local child care providers and empowers parents, while ensuring accountability. · This collaborative venture acknowledges the importance of quality early childhood experiences as the foundation for children’s future success. The Look for the Stars program, implemented by the Early Learning Coalition, will assist parents to identify quality programs through a 5 star rating system and will support providers in their efforts to maintain quality programs. • The ELC launched the Substitute and Teacher Recruitment, Development and Education (STRDE) Program to offer classroom ready substitute teachers for child care and preschool centers in our community. In its first nine months of operation, 26 teachers provided more than 512 substitute days, or over 4,000 hours. This model has been so successful that demand is increasing and it may be utilized as a centralized recruitment program for permanent teachers. • The ELC established a Resource Room (RR) for local early learning professionals. The RR offers an extensive selection of books, program materials, curriculum examples, training videos for teachers and directors as well as materials that can be used with children in the classroom. Teachers also have access to a laminator and much needed office and computer equipment. The RR has been used as a classroom for several mini-trainings and demonstrations and in its first year more than 350 individual visits were recorded. It is expected the we will exceed that number this year.

Continued commitment to training our local preschool workforce • Th  e 2008 ELC Provider Conference had record attendance of more than 350. Teachers, directors and early childhood educators chose from a wide range of workshops covering teaching strategies and new developments and had an opportunity to hear from top professionals in the field of early childhood education. • 66 training opportunities were provided to 1,592 participants within our local early learning community in the 2007 program year. Many of the trainings were provided as a series in order to cover topics comprehensively. • Monthly Directors Connection meetings sponsored by the ELC with support from ECA of Sarasota, offer on-going training to directors as well as opportunities for sharing and networking. • 244 teachers, directors and family child care providers attended statewide professional conferences through ELC scholarship support.

On-site consultation and support within early learning settings • I ndividualized training, coaching and classroom consultation is offered to address a variety of issues, including setting up the classroom environment, use of materials, lesson planning, and implementing developmentally appropriate activities and curriculum. From 2004-2007 the use of appropriate curriculum among all Sarasota providers improved dramatically from 12% to 90% for center based care.

Mission: The Early Learning Coalition will integrate leadership and community resources to promote high quality early education and family support

Accomplishments • Intensive focused training and mentoring, along with materials to enhance the environment, were provided to 28 infant toddler classrooms. • Mini-grants are provided for early learning providers to purchase materials tied to incorporating Florida Performance Standards for young children within classroom settings; 90 grants totaling over $35,000 were awarded in December 2007. Follow-up reports demonstrated a consistent understanding of these important standards. • Support for a full continuum of developmental screening, inclusion services and behavioral support consultation that begins with developmental screening of all school readiness children and follow-up evaluations on-site for children if a concern is identified. A range of additional services are provided as needed:

– I n 2007, 1,230 Ages and Stages (ASQ) developmental screenings were completed; of those, 22% required some degree of follow-up or re-screens, and 15% of those required additional follow-up support.

– H  earing and vision screenings were provided to 2,769 children at different early care and education sites.

– 9 2 distinct providers received extensive on-site inclusion support this year in addition to routine support for developmental screenings.

• A  new program to provide in classroon behavioral support for “challenging children” at risk of expulsion called Building Better Behavior shows very promising results. All 54 children receiving services the first year of the program, met at least 50% of all individualized goals within a 90 day intervention period.

Focus on Early Literacy • The ELC continues to sponsor a Reading is Fundamental program (RIF).

– M  ore than 1,500 children in 45 early learning sites receive popular children’s books to take home three times during the year, for a total of over 4,500 books distributed.

– T  o enhance and build upon the RIF program, the ELC sponsored mentoring and literacy enhancement materials for 14 three year old classrooms at 12 child care centers in Sarasota County who were also participating in the (RIF) program. Participating classrooms improved an average of 20%, up from 60% to 85% on a literacy pre/post test checklists

 ne director said the literacy program was “Fabulous, we got a classroom O full of words and ordered effective materials to enhance literacy (play food, puzzles, games).”

• A  ll early learning sites received checklists and supports to develop literacy rich classrooms.

Effective service delivery model The current service delivery model maintains effective partnerships specifically between the Coalition and other local key community organizations also dedicated to the well being of Sarasota County’s young children. This has fostered a very successful community collaborative team approach to delivering important services that fit the respective strengths, mission and core activities of each organization and it has improved coordination of services by minimizing duplication of services and by facilitating communication among all parties involved.

Vision: We are a community that strengthens families and nurtures the learning potential of every child

“Children who participate in high-quality prekindergarten programs fare better in school, have better home lives, and... go on to higher achievement later in life, graduating from high school and attending college at a higher rate, and earning more once they enter the labor force.” —Economic Policy Institute, 2007



Children Served

VPK 4 years old 1500



Infants Toddlers 0-3 years

1903 children have been served in the current fiscal year within the School Readiness Scholarship program (SR) 1608 children have been served within the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program (VPK)



*133 children are served within both the SR and VPK program



Pre-school 3-5 years old

Over 1100 NEW children were served this current year within the School Readiness Scholarship program

School-Age 6 years old


Child Care 10.9% Resource & Early Care 5% Referral 3.6% and Eligibility, Family Education Administrative Support, and other Costs Provider Quality Non-Direct Program Enhancement Services Services


SR and VPK Child Care Payments


Current Operating Budget $8,937,344

SR and VPK Child Care Payments


Early Care and Education Provider Quality Enhancement Services

$403, 097

Administrative Costs

SR $225,451

VPK $177,646


Child Care Resource and Referral


Eligibility, Family Support, and other Non-Direct Program Services

$11,268,561 TOTAL

Looking to the Future As the Early Learning Coalition moves forward, we remain committed to ensuring a bright future for all young children in our community. To help us accomplish this goal, the Early Learning Coalition remains focused on providing programs and services that work to support high quality early care and education. We have made great strides this past year in key areas such as improving appropriate practices for child care providers, increasing implementation of approved curriculums, and teacher training. Though we have made significant progress, much work still remains to be done. In the future, we will be concentrating our efforts on strengthening our Substitute Training and Recruitment project and will also explore how this successful program can be expanded to offer comprehensive centralized recruitment and training support for permanent teachers. In addition, The Coalition will work with its partners to address some of the issues identified within the Workforce Study compiled this year; such as teacher retention, wage upgrades, professional advancement, and education beyond the minimum required. We also intend to address issues regarding the need for increased capacity and availability of child care in selected areas within the county and will continue our efforts to meet the needs of children with challenging behaviors and their teachers. Supporting our quality initiatives this year and beyond will be our community’s new Quality Rating Improvement System, Look for the Stars. This community-based program will help ensure that our community’s children are receiving the high quality early care and education they need by assisting parents to identify and choose quality and by supporting providers in their efforts to implement and maintain the quality programs that are essential for children to be “ready for learning, ready for life.” For more information about this exciting new program, stay tuned… and Look for the Stars! In closing, The Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County is pleased to be able to continue its collaborative efforts on behalf of our community’s children, families and child care providers.

Janet Kahn Executive Director The Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County

Board Members

Thank you to our Funding Partners

OFFICERS Chair, appointed by the Governor Laura Benson Prudential Cascade Realty Vice-Chair Tami Conetta Ruden, McClosky, Smith, Schuster & Russell Treasurer Stephen Spangler Cavanaugh & Company, LLP MEMBERS Laura Bauman Ruden, McClosky, Smith, Schuster & Russell Michael Breton Breton Benefits Insurance Dr. Norman Goldstein Early Steps David H. Hicks Alladin Ward Electric and Air, Inc. Jill Jacoby Sarasota County Health Department, Child Care Licensing Hope Kinney Children First/Head Start Representative Chris C. Kofler Unisource Group Bill Little Sarasota County Health Department Sue Loncaric First United Methodist Church Early Care Center Janice Mee Representing the Suncoast Workforce Board Ken Modzelewski South County Family YMCA Lois Natiello Department of Children and Families Kathryn Stuckey, PhD. Manatee Community College Pauline Tracy Sarasota County Health and Human Services, Representing the Board of County Commissioners

Florida Department of Education

Community Partners Children First /Head Start Community Health Improvement Project (CHIP) Department of Children and Families Devereux Florida Early Childhood Association of Sarasota Early Steps Early Success Florida Center for Child and Family Development Florida Diagnostic and Learning System (FDLERS) Forty Carrots Hand ‘n’ Hand Healthy Start Coalition Home Child Care Providers of Sarasota (HCCPS) Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Jobs, Etc. Manatee Community College (MCC) National Council of Jewish Women North Port Social Service Center Safe Children’s Coalition Sarasota County Health Department Sarasota County Library System Sarasota County School District Sarasota County Technical Institute (SCTI) Sarasota Partnership for Children’s Mental Health Silverstein Institute- Ear Research Foundation Suncoast Workforce Board Supporting People in Caring Environments (SPICE) United Way Success by Six University of South Florida WEDU - West Central Florida’s Community PBS Station

Please see the attached insert for a list of our very important partners— Our Community of Early Learning Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes

Lori White Sarasota County School District Representative

Special thanks to KSC for concept and design.

The Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County 1750 17th Street, Unit K-1 Sarasota, Florida 34234 (941) 954-4830

Sponsored by the Early Learning Coalition, Agency for Workforce Innovation, Office of Early Learning

Annual Report 2008  
Annual Report 2008  

Annual Report 2008