ELC IN THE NEWS 

Find the latest news about our work in the child care sector, below.

Passionate about high-quality early education and wish to support Pinellas’ child care community? Please scroll down
to view resources to share with others. To learn more about how to help, click here.

Looking to interview someone from the ELC or request a speaker? Email whall@elcpinellas.org.


RECENT NEWS

In past years, the number of Hillsborough County kids enrolled for summer and fall VPK courses has grown as high as 12,000 children. But this year, the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County said numbers are closer to 8,000. In Pinellas County, numbers have dropped by 25% since last year. Statewide, educators said there has been a drop of 22% in VPK enrollment.
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Enrollment in Florida’s VPK Program is down and educators are worried about the long-term impact that could have on students. Sandy White is the Director of Barlow Little Palms Pre-School in Palm Harbor. She said typically she has 9 or more children enrolled in the center’s VPK class but this school year it’s been a struggle. “We are required to have 4 students to start our VPK class. I didn’t sign up my fourth one until January so that’s when my program started in January,” she said. Providers suspect the Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest reason for the decline in enrollment.
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Early learning educators and advocates are worried after seeing a decline in enrollment for Florida’s voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) program. The Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas tells 8 On Your Side they are seeing roughly about a 20% decline. “That equates to over 1,200 students who are not getting the VPK program and that early learning experience,” said Lindsay Carson, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas.
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Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program has experienced enrollment declines in the past year, raising concerns about what the long-term effects might be for many young learners. At the same time, the program is trying to deal with a performance assessment that shows almost half the students at the next level might not be getting the tools they need. According to the Early Learning Coalition (ELC), Hillsborough County’s VPK enrollment dropped roughly 30%, while Pinellas County’s drop was closer to 25%.
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February 17, 2021 – Tampa Bay Newswire
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.
 – The Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County sent a letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urging the administration to consider early learning and school-age care providers as a priority in the next phase of COVID-19 vaccine distributions. Coordinating with the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, ELC of Pinellas is fighting to make sure child care providers who have been working to educate and care for infants and young children during much of the pandemic are not forgotten.
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RECENT NEWS

Adjusting to life during a pandemic has been challenging for everyone. Even the youngest members of society have been forced to adapt.  “Their routines right now are really disrupted. Everything is a little different, everybody seems a little strange to them, and so the more we can do to keep things in a natural environment gives them comfort,” said Lindsay Carson, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas.
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PINELLAS STATE LEGISLATORS HEARS FROM CONSTITUENTS AT DELEGATION MEETING
January 29, 2021 – BayNews 9
Already dealing with a six percent budget “withholding,” acting Pinellas-Pasco County State Attorney Bruce Bartlett called on members of the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation on Tuesday not to go any further in reducing funding to his agency. “All I’m asking is that it’s short term dollars, and not permanent cuts. The permanent cuts would have a significant impact on the agency,” said Bartlett, who was named earlier this month to replace Bernie McCabe in the state attorney’s office after McCabe’s death on New Year’s Day.
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FAMILY FRIENDLY PINELLAS PRESENTS
FIRST BUSINESS AWARDS
January 14, 2020 – St. Pete Area Chamber
Family Friendly Pinellas, a Thrive by Five initiative and ­­­­­­­subsidiary of Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County, recently launched its exclusive Family Friendly Business Award®.  The Family Friendly Business Award® is a trademark-registered award recognizing businesses in Pinellas County creating friendly workplace environments for families.
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1,000 MORE STUDENTS ABLE TO ENROLL IN PINELLAS COUNTY EARLY LEARNING COALITION
November 27, 2020 – BayNews 9
Pinellas County’s Early Learning Coalition just got a big financial boost from the state to expand its school readiness program. Legislators added an additional $3.8 million to the ELC’s budget, allowing the organization to enroll 1,000 more preschoolers.
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TAMPA BAY CHILD CARE CENTERS FACING FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTY AFTER STATE DEPT. OF EDUCATION COMPUTER MALFUNCTION
November 18, 2020 – WFLA Channel 8 News
A malfunction by yet another state computer system has threatened to sink day care centers throughout Florida that are barely managing to survive the COVID-19 crisis.
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WHO’S MINDING OUR LITTLEST CHILDREN? COVID’S IMPACT ON LOCAL CHILD CARE CENTERS
August 11, 2020 – 83 Degrees Media
The national debate of late is focused on the return of young people to grade school, high school, and college. But safe, high-quality childcare for infants, toddlers, and other preschool-age children is even more of a concern for parents getting back to work.

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FLORIDA VPK ENROLLMENT DOWN STATEWIDE AMID CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS
August 9, 2020 – Tampa Bay Times
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to strain residents’ basic needs, Pinellas County is partnering with two local agencies to distribute $34 million in federal CARES Act funding targeted towards child care facilities and nonprofits.

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FLORIDA VPK ENROLLMENT DOWN STATEWIDE AMID CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS
August 6, 2020 – ABC Action News
TAMPA, Fla. — Enrollment in Florida’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program is down statewide in 2020, according to the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas. This comes as many families are choosing to keep children home as COVID-19 spreads across the state.

Read More  >

 

‘DON’T FORGET ABOUT US’ – PRE-K TEACHERS, STAFF WORKING THROUGH PANDEMIC FEEL FORGOTTEN
August 6, 2020 – ABC Action News
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — As communities hold meeting after meeting to focus on how to get teachers and students back to school safely, Pre-K and early learning teachers say they’ve already been facing the health dangers for months.
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VPK REGISTRATIONS FALL IN TAMPA BAY AMID CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS
August 3, 2020 – WFLA Channel 8 News
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — School is almost back in session in most Tampa Bay area counties, but parents of 4-year-old children are scrambling to find options while coronavirus cases continue to spread.
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YESTERDAY’S NEWS

 

TAMPA BAY ON BRINK OF CHILD CARE CRISIS AMID CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
July 9, 2020 – Channel 8 News
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The Pinellas County Early Learning Coalition believes a possible child care crisis is underway due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More  >

 

FLORIDA CHILDCARE FACILITIES ABLE TO RETURN TO NORMAL CAPACITY AFTER STATE LOOSENS RESTRICTIONS
May 26, 2020 – ABC Action News
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Florida childcare providers are now able to increase their classroom capacities back to normal numbers, calming fears for some facilities that they may have to close because they could barely make ends meet.

Read More  >

 

 

Media Resources & More

 

Please use the resources below to help spread the word about the work we do to support high-quality, equitable child care in Pinellas County. If you have questions about the resources or need different formats, please emails thernandez@elcpinellas.org.

Early Learning Coalition Enews 

 

To subscribe to ELC Enews, please email thernandez@elcpinellas.org.

 

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