Children require a strong start in order to build the foundation needed to reach their full potential in higher education and in life. Unfortunately, 21% of children ages 0-5 in Sarasota County live in poverty and do not have access to the supplies needed. With a $20 donation, the MyFirstBackpack.org program supplies a child with many of tools needed to succeed.
About the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County.
MISSION: The Early Learning Coalition offers the highest quality early education resources and family support to ensure that children are ready for learning and ready for life.
VISION: ELC will provide the definitive standards for local early learning resources so that all families in our community, through access to high quality learning, can have the support they need for their children to thrive.
PURPOSE: The Early Learning Coalition provides administration and oversight of the local, integrated system of early education for preschool age children in Sarasota County, ensuring quality childcare and early learning programs, family access to services, and positive outcomes for young children. The ELC serves over 4000 children and assists 200 providers annually.
BACKGROUND/HISTORY: The Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County was originally incorporated in May 2000 as a result of legislation, as the School Readiness Coalition of Sarasota County, Inc., and is a 501 c (3) non-profit organization.
The School Readiness and the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten legislation continues to outline the responsibilities for Early Learning Coalitions implemented at the local level to improve the quality of local child care sites and support school readiness outcomes for all children. It also establishes thresholds for spending categories, including an administrative cap of 5%, and determines the composition of its Board of Directors. The Legislature recognizes that effective school readiness programs increase children’s chances for success.
Our local Coalition currently administers a program of $11 million of local, state and federal funds that are used to:
Facilitate and oversee a wide range of services to enhance the overall system of quality child care and preschool educational programs for children in Sarasota County.
Provide child care scholarships to local income-eligible families so they have access to high quality care to support positive development and outcomes for their children.
Manage the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program (VPK) for all four year olds to increase the readiness of children to begin Kindergarten.
Administer the community’s Look for Stars quality rating program for child care, a 5 star rating system; provide corresponding support and training for early care teachers.
Manage a local “Literacy Buddy” program using volunteers to correspond with young children around books.
Offer variety of resources for parents, including educational materials on child development, early literacy, developmental screening, and support for parents being their child’s first teacher.
The Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County reports at the state level to the Office for Early Learning. A 15-25-member Board of Directors, whose membership is determined by the current legislation, governs the Coalition and ensures compliance with all applicable legislation and statutory requirements and a high quality of services. The Chair and two of the private sector business representatives are appointed by the Governor, other Board members are community leaders, educators, child care professionals, and local business representatives, all dedicated to ensuring that Sarasota’s young children are given the strong foundation they need to succeed in school.