Serving Citrus, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, and Sumter Counties
Inclusion Warm Line
Are you the parent of a young child with special needs? Do you have questions about how to access services your child may need? Are you looking for child care for your special needs child?
We’re here to help! Call (877) 840-5437
School Readiness Program Information
The School Readiness program offers quality early learning experiences to young children with the goal of preparing them for later school success. The Coalition works to offer parents a wide variety of early learning options for their children, including licensed child care centers, license-exempt child care centers, family child care homes, and school-based classrooms. The Coalition works to ensure that all participating providers offer quality programs that meet the requirements of law.
Highlights of the School Readiness Program
School Readiness providers offer programs that include:
Research-based early learning activities and instruction
Developmentally appropriate curriculum
Character development programs
Individual education plans
Healthy and safe environments
Appropriate staff-to-child ratios
Personnel with required qualifications
Family-friendly environment that supports parent involvement opportunities
Parent support services
The School Readiness program is open to qualifying children that apply through the simplified point of entry. As funding becomes available, children are placed in the program according to the Coalition's established priorities. Parents or caregivers are assigned a parent fee based on the Coalition's sliding fee scale.
To receive further information or to apply in person, please contact your local Coalition office.
In Citrus County: Early Learning Coalition of the Nature Coast 1566 N Meadowcrest Blvd Crystal River, FL 34429 (352) 563-9939 (877) 336-5437
In Dixie, Gilchrist, or Levy County: Early Learning Coalition of the Nature Coast 216 N Main St Chiefland, FL 32626 (352) 490-5855 (877) 804-5437
In Sumter County: Early Learning Coalition of the Nature Coast 114 Jumper Drive North Bushnell, FL 33513 (352) 793-5430
Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) began as a constitutional amendment passed by Florida voters in November 2002 and signed into law January 2, 2005. It is designed to prepare every four-year-old in Florida for kindergarten and build the foundation for their educational success. The VPK program gives each child an opportunity to perform better in school and throughout life with quality programs that include high quality standards, accountability, appropriate curricula, substantial instruction periods, manageable class sizes, and qualified instructors. All eligible four-year-olds are entitled to participate in one of the VPK program options.
Highlights of the VPK Program The VPK program is a FREE for all four-year-olds born on or before September 1 each year who reside in Florida. The program has high quality standards that include:
Age appropriate curricula with a strong emphasis on early literacy skills
Manageable class sizes
VPK Program Options Parental choice is a priority; therefore, both private and public providers may participate. VPK providers have flexibility in structuring the hours per day and days per week to meet the required instructional hours:
School Year Program - 540 instructional hours. Class sizes not to exceed 20 students; instructors must have a minimum of a National Child Development Associate credential or Florida Child Care Professional Certificate.
Summer Program - 300 instructional hours. Class sizes not to exceed 12 students; instructors must have a minimum of a Bachelor's degree.
For a listing of participating School Readiness or VPK providers throughout our service area, please call or visit your local Early Learning Coalition office.
Child Care Resource & Referral Services
It is our goal to assist you in locating a quality child care program that meets your family’s needs. Choosing an early care and education provider is one of the most important decisions that families make. It is important to choose a provider who meets the needs of your child and with whom you feel comfortable. We do not license, endorse, or recommend any particular provider. Each family’s situation and each child is unique; therefore, only you can best determine which program is right for you and your child. Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) is a free information and referral service provided by the Early Learning Coalition of the Nature Coast. Our database includes all legally operating providers (those that have met all state and local licensing or registration requirements) in Citrus, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, and Sumter Counties.
Families receive free information on finding & selecting quality child care programs that best meet their needs. Trained staff answer your questions on how to choose the best early learning program for your family. Families are provided with unbiased referrals customized to your individual needs. Referrals and information about other services available in the community are available. Information on financial assistance options is available.
CCR&R makes referrals only, not recommendations.
To receive further information, please contact your local Coalition office (see above).
Child Passenger Safety Program
Are you the parent or caregiver of a child under the age of 8?
Do you have questions about the correct type of car seat for your child, or how to install it safely in your vehicle?
Did you know that children are safest in the back seat of your vehicle, in a car seat or booster until they are approximately 4'9" tall?
Our Child Passenger Safety Program offers parents and caregivers in our community an opportunity to have your child's car seat checked to ensure that your child is as safe in your vehicle as possible. By appointment only, our certified CPS personnel will help you to determine whether your current car seat is appropriate and safe for your child. If your seat is outdated, damaged, or otherwise unsafe for use, we may be able to assist you with obtaining a new car seat for your child. Our program offers families experiencing financial hardship the opportunity to purchase a new, high quality car seat for a minimal fee. Your appointment time will include education for you as the parent or caregiver on how to properly install the car seat in your vehicle so that you drive away with your child as safe as possible.