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Coalition hosts special board meeting to discuss age range | Families

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Coalition hosts special board meeting to discuss age range
Families, News, Schools
Coalition hosts special board meeting to discuss age range

The Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, Inc. will host a special, public meeting of the Board of Directors to discuss the age range for School Readiness services (subsidized child care).

The meeting, which will be open to the public, will be held at Pasco-Hernando Community College (PHCC), Building C—Room C205, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 7:00 p.m. The meeting is the result of yearlong discussions about an increasing waitlist for School Readiness services.

School Readiness is a subsidized child care program managed by the Coalition, funded by grants from the State and Federal governments. The program allows low-income parents, who are either working or in school, to apply for child care assistance. The Coalition pays a portion of the child(ren)’s fees for child care, while parents contribute the rest, based on a sliding fee scale.

Currently, children eligible for Coalition subsidized services range from birth to eight years of age. While children ages birth to five are enrolled in early education programs, children ages 6, 7 and 8 are enrolled in School Age programs, widely known as “before-and-after school care.”

“The Coalition’s mission is to prepare children to enter and succeed in school,” said Jim Farrelly, Executive Director of the Early Learning Coalition. “Concerns have been raised for some time that the Coalition is unable to fully meet the demands of that mission because funding is used to assist children ages 6,7 and 8 who are enrolled in elementary schools. The Coalition must therefore place many children ages birth to five on a waiting list for services. Placing children on this waiting list often leaves parents vulnerable and unable to either work or pursue an education because they cannot afford the cost of child care on their own.”

Currently, approximately 500 children are on a waiting list for School Readiness services, Farrelly said.

Exceptions to the age range includes Protective Services and Temporary Aid to Need Families (TANF) children. Another exception may be children with Special Needs whose child care needs are assessed on a case-by-case basis. At the meeting, Coalition Board Members will also review community alternatives for school-age children who do not fall into the “Exceptions” category.

The special meeting at Pasco-Hernando Community College will be open to the public and interested community members are invited to share their concerns, suggestions and solutions. No action is anticipated at this meeting.

Due to space limitations, those planning to attend should notify the Coalition by contacting Katie Nelson, Communications Specialist, at k.nelson@phelc.org or (727) 233-8197.

For more information about the Coalition and its services, visit www.phelc.org or call (727) 233-8291.

Release courtesy Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties.

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