The Big Blue Bus Program
The Big Blue Bus is a specifically designed bus that acts as a mobile resource for early childhood providers in Lake County. Through partnerships with Lake County’s Children’s Services Council and area foundations and businesses, the Coalition is able to provide this service to all Lake County providers free of charge. The Coalition now has two Blue Buses that travel throughout the community to reach children in private, public, faith-based or family child care home facilities or community events. The bus provides resource materials for parents and providers on topics ranging from kindergarten readiness to positive parenting. Our Early Childhood Specialist offers a variety of services to providers and parents. When the Big Blue Bus travels to centers or family child care homes, our Early Childhood Specialist conducts art & crafts projects including science with the children, as well as reading and story time. An added benefit is that the children have time to learn and do activities on the computers that are provided on the bus.
At this time the Big Blue Bus is being renovated. Once the renovation is complete the links below will be once again active.
East Lake (Tavares, Eustis, Mt. Dora, Sorrento, Umatilla & Grand Island)
North Lake (Leesburg, Lady Lake, Fruitland Park, Howey in the Hills & Astatula)
South Lake (Minneola, Groveland, Mascotte, Mount Verde & Clermont)
Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS)
- A way to assess, improve and communicate the quality of early care that families consider for their children
- It empowers parents to become savvy consumers and choose high quality for their children
- Gives providers a roadmap to quality improvement
- Improves the health and development of children in early care
- Enables policy makers to implement polices proven to improve quality
- Learning Environment
- Staff Qualifications
- Professional Development
- Ratios & Group Sizes
- Family Engagement
Each Domain is Assigned A Weight
- Learning Environment -40%
- Staff Qualifications – 10%
- Professional Development – 10%
- Ratios & Group Sizes – 10%
- Curriculum – 15%
- Family Engagement 7.5%
- Administration 7.5%
Each Step is Assigned A Numerical Value Ranging From 1 - 5
Interested in Becoming a School Readiness Provider?
The School Readiness program offers qualified parents financial assistance for child care through a variety of services. These services include all-day, extended-year and school age care for children to support parents in becoming financially self-sufficient. The Early Learning Coalition’s Family Services Specialist identify eligible children for the program and maintain a unified waiting list for school readiness eligible children. To obtain more information on becoming a school readiness provider, you may contact Simone Smith, Compliance Director for the Coalition at 352-435-0566. View information about opening a child care facility
What is Fraud?
According To Florida Statute 1002.91 Fraud is, when someone intentionally deceives, omits or misrepresents information knowing that person or someone else may receive unauthorized benefits as a result. Helping someone commit fraud is also considered fraud.
- If you sign a child in when the child is absent in order to be paid for that day – IT’s FRAUD
- If you ask a parent to sign a child in/out when they have not attended – IT’s FRAUD
- If you give false information to receive payment or stay contracted for SR or VPK – IT’S FRAUD
- If you tell a parent not to report changes to the coalition – IT’S FRAUD
If you suspect fraud, please contact us at 352-435-0566.
Fraud hurts us ALL but most especially the children we should be caring for and protecting.
Technical Training and Mentoring
Technical training and mentoring consists of one-on-one mentoring and professional development trainings for Lake County providers. The Coalition has early education specialists on staff who monitor centers to ensure that health and safety requirements are met as well as class ratios. These early education specialists assess the environmental quality of the centers to ensure that age appropriate curriculum is being used and that providers are equipped with essential learning resource materials. Special trainings are held throughout the year specifically for infant/toddlers as well as early childhood. The Coalition conducts a variety of special workshops and conferences throughout the year. These trainings range from an in-house training as well as the annual conference for providers. This allows our providers to earn their required in-service hours or their CEUs at the conference. The Coalition’s training calendar is developed early in the program year and providers are encouraged to review the calendar regularly for any additions or changes.
First AID and CPR Training
The Early Learning Coalition partners with Orange County Public Safety to offer First Aid, CPR, AED and Fire Extinguisher training to Lake County early learning providers and staff. The training is typically held on the first Saturday of each month. Class size is no more than 30 and is on a first paid registration basis and are held throughout Lake County at child care facilities.
The current cost of the training is $27.50. Online Registration is available by visiting our calendar and clicking on the training date of choice. To visit the Online Training Calendar please click the link below:
If you have any questions about the First AID & CPR training please contact 352.435.0566, Monday – Thursday, 8:00am – 5:00pm
Professional Development Opportunities
The Early Learning Coalition of Lake County offers Professional Development in early childhood education that is essential in order to provide high-quality services to children and families. Early Educators will learn how to better prepare themselves to work with young children and their families, as well as receive ongoing experiences that will enhance their skills. These opportunities lead to improvements in the knowledge, skills, best teaching practices, and support in Early Learning.
To visit the Online Training Calendar please click the link below:
Voluntary Pre Kindergarten
The Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) was implemented in 2002 in order to give all of Florida’s four year olds access to a free, quality prekindergarten educational experience regardless of the family income. Parents have the option of choosing the provider that meets their family’s needs. These options include: private and faith-based child care centers, private and public schools and licensed family child care homes. The Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) is designed to prepare Florida’s children for kindergarten and develop the skills they need to become good readers and successful students. VPK includes standards for literacy skills, appropriate curricula, substantial instruction periods, manageable class sizes with qualified instructors and strict accountability. Parents have the option of enrolling children in a school-year program that consists of 540 instructional hours, OR a summer program consisting of 300 instructional hours. The Early Learning Coalition of Lake County administers the VPK Program at the local level which includes verifying the qualifications of child care providers, providing families with enrollment support and ensuring that the legislative requirements of the VPK Program are met. The day-to-day management of the program is the responsibility of the Office of Early Learning (OEL); licensing and credentialing is the responsibility of the Department of Children and Families (DCF); and the creation of standards, curriculum, as well as accountability is the responsibility of the Florida Department of Education (FDOE). All three agencies work together to provide leadership and support to the local early learning coalitions, school districts, public and private providers to ensure the successful implementation of quality prekindergarten education programs for Florida’s four year old children.
Becoming a VPK Provider
A VPK private provider must be a licensed child care facility, a licensed family day care home (registered homes are not eligible), a licensed large family child care home, or a nonpublic school or faith-based child care provider that is exempt from licensure. Each private provider must meet one of the options below:
Be accredited by an accrediting association that is a member of the National Council for Private School Accreditation, the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation, or the Florida Association of Academic Nonpublic Schools.
Hold a current Gold Seal Quality Care designation; OR
Be a licensed child care provider and demonstrate to the Early Learning Coalition that the provider meets the VPK program requirements, including, but not limited to, credentials and background screenings of instructors, minimum and maximum class sizes, director credentials, and developmentally appropriate curriculum. Unlicensed family day care homes and informal child care providers are NOT eligible to participate in the program. For more information please contact the Coalition at (352) 435-0566 Monday through Thursday, 8-5 PM.
Training and Resources for VPK Providers
Training Management System
The Florida Department of Children and Families, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Education Office of Early Learning, has introduced the TRAINING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM. ALL VPK teachers, assistants, and directors enrolling in ‘face-to-face’ VPK trainings and DOE approved on-line trainings. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER ON LINE. This new system not only allows providers to register for trainings, but will also allow you to print certificates upon completion of the training. The VPK face-to-face training courses are free of charge and include free CEU’s.
VPK Teacher’s Guide and Child Portfolio
The Department of Education has created a new teacher resource available to all Voluntary Pre- Kindergarten (VPK) programs. The “What I Learned in VPK!” Teacher’s Guide and accompanying Child Portfolio are designed as a means for programs to communicate with parents about a child’s progress in meeting the VPK Education Standards by the end of the VPK experience. The Teacher’s Guide gives valuable information about how a teacher can complete a Child Portfolio for each child to give to parents at the end of VPK. These two documents can be viewed and printed using the links below. What I learned in VPK! Teacher’s Guide What I learned in VPK! Child Portfolio
VPK Teacher Toolkit Now Available
On April 6, 2009 DOE announced the availability of the VPK Teacher Toolkit. This new online resource is available free to all VPK teachers, assistants and directors and is designed to support early learning in the VPK classroom. The Language & Vocabulary folder, the first of five resource folders, supports language development through the use of implicit and explicit instructional strategies. Visit the VPK Teacher Toolkit