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Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida Literacy Buddies Program Helps Prepare Kids for Kindergarten

Posted on 09/30/2011 @ 11:18 AM

Tags: West

By Becky Newell, Regional Coordinator, West Florida

The Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida is committed to promoting early literacy. Their Literacy Buddies program provides a way for individuals to help too!

Here’s what each program volunteer does:

• Receives a letter from a child in an early learning facility served by the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida.
• Replies to the child’s letter, and sends a high quality book to the child with the reply.
• Repeats this process twice during the school year (for a total of 3 exchanges).

As of now, more than 1500 adults have signed on as Literacy Buddies, but there are many more children who can benefit from the program and still need a “buddy.”

According to the Early Learning Coalition, “anyone, any age, anywhere can become a Literacy Buddy.” Click here for more information about the program and how to help.

Is The New Rule For VPK Providers Enough?

Posted on 09/23/2011 @ 02:21 PM

Tags: North

By David Abrams, State Coordinator, North Florida

The state Board of Education approved a rule Tuesday requiring that at least 70 percent of a VPK provider's students be considered ready for Kindergarten on two assessment measures. This means any school with fewer than 70 percent will be considered low-performing and can potentially close down if improvements aren't made. The legislature changed the law this year, now requiring the board to set a readiness rate, and hoping children will be better prepared for kindergarten. There was previously no set rate providers had to meet.

While a majority of early-learning officials are supportive of the new rule-there are several concerns, which include last year's budget cuts and the expected increase in the number of low-performing providers. Many officials had recommended the state board to set the rate at 60 percent reducing the risk of thousands of providers becoming low-performing. Susan Main, Executive Director of The Early Learning Coalition of Duval ( and active leader of The Children's Movement of Florida-Jacksonville Chapter) says, "I'm all for improving the readiness rate in children". However, she did go on to mention the new rules come as providers lost close to $200 per child in payments from the state for VPK this school year. The state currently funds $2,383 per child, which is more than a 5 percent decrease from the $2,575 previously funded by the state.

Since we launched a year ago, The Children's Movement of Florida has been advocating for pre and post assessments to illustrate a child's progress before Pre-K to after Pre-K (heading into Kindergarten). I believe it is critical to have our children ready for kindergarten whether it's from VPK assessment, a research based curriculum, or hiring more qualified teachers. I'm also shamefully aware of the limited resources our state is allowing VPK providers to work with. Before this year's budget cuts Florida ranked 34 of 38 in per pupil funding for VPK.

Personally, I'm excited of the new rule-but now it's time to provide our schools with enough per child funding to execute a high readiness rate. This is too important for short-cuts!

Interested in your thoughts!

Big Brothers Big Sisters Returns to Southwest Florida

Posted on 09/23/2011 @ 12:52 PM

Tags: West

By Becky Newell, Regional Coordinator, West Florida

After 35 years of serving Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee Counties, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Florida closed its doors in June of this year. But now the approximately 500 children who lost their mentoring services because of the closure are celebrating. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast, based in Venice, formally announced on Wednesday that it will take over the mentoring operation for the counties that lost services in June.

One of the first priorities is to reunite “Bigs” and “Littles” who lost touch after the June closing. The organization is also reaching out to businesses and individuals to recruit new volunteers to mentor more children in the area.

Click here to see Ft. Myers’ WINK News coverage of Wednesday’s press conference.

Miami: Family Day at the Market

Posted on 09/21/2011 @ 10:07 AM

Tags: South

By John Knight, Regional Coordinator, South Florida

Join the South Miami Farmer's Market/Earth Learning, South Miami Hospital and Informed Families' South Miami Drug-Free Coalition in celebrating Family Day at the Market, 9a-2p, Saturday September 24 at City Hall! In addition to great local produce and products, families of all kinds can enjoy a host of activities: health screenings, bounce house, face painting, a family meal, cooking demonstrations, family fitness activities, music and more!

Family Day is a national movement that encourages families to eat together. Family time during meals helps keep kids alcohol and drug free!

Miami-Dade Feria Para Aprender

Posted on 09/16/2011 @ 11:10 AM

Tags: South

By John Knight, Regional Coordinator, South Florida

The nationally acclaimed Feria Para Aprender or the “Learning Fair” is making its first stop in Miami, Florida on October 8, from 12-5 pm at Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Kendall Campus. After multiple blowout events in Los Angeles, CA and Dallas, TX over the last 5 years, Feria is now looking to help Miami’s Spanish-speaking population. Miami-Dade College recently distributed a joint press release with Feria and Univision, where you will find all the necessary details about the event. The press release describes the Feria Para Aprender as “…thousands of parents [and children] along an educational pathway with 100 Spanish language exhibits starting from early childhood to college and career.” You can watch the Univision 23 Feria Para Aprender PSA here.

How you can help: 1) Spread the word via email, social networking, etc. 2) Donate raffle prizes, Spanish books, etc. 3) Volunteer! (must be fluent in Spanish)

If you would like to volunteer for The Children’s Movement of Florida at this event, please contact John Knight, South Florida Coordinator: john.knight@childrensmovementflorida.org

For more information or to donate materials, please contact Oné Musel-Gilley, Miami-Dade Feria Director: communicard@gmail.com


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