(1) Each early learning coalition shall administer the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program at the county or regional level for students enrolled under s. 1002.53(3)(a) in a school-year prekindergarten program delivered by a private prekindergarten provider.
(2) Each school-year prekindergarten program delivered by a private prekindergarten provider must comprise at least 540 instructional hours.
(3) To be eligible to deliver the prekindergarten program, a private prekindergarten provider must meet each of the following requirements: (a) The private prekindergarten provider must be a child care facility licensed under s. 402.305, family day care home licensed under s. 402.313, large family child care home licensed under s. 402.3131, nonpublic school exempt from licensure under s. 402.3025(2), or faith-based child care provider exempt from licensure under s. 402.316. (b) The private prekindergarten provider must: 1. Be accredited by an accrediting association that is a member of the National Council for Private School Accreditation, or the Florida Association of Academic Nonpublic Schools, or be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or Western Association of Colleges and Schools, or North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, or Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, or New England Association of Colleges and Schools; and have written accreditation standards that meet or exceed the state’s licensing requirements under s. 402.305, s. 402.313, or s. 402.3131 and require at least one onsite visit to the provider or school before accreditation is granted; 2. Hold a current Gold Seal Quality Care designation under s. 402.281; or 3. Be licensed under s. 402.305, s. 402.313, or s. 402.3131 and demonstrate, before delivering the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, as verified by the early learning coalition, that the provider meets each of the requirements of the program under this part, including, but not limited to, the requirements for credentials and background screenings of prekindergarten instructors under paragraphs (c) and (d), minimum and maximum class sizes under paragraph (f), prekindergarten director credentials under paragraph (g), and a developmentally appropriate curriculum under s. 1002.67(2)(b). (c) The private prekindergarten provider must have, for each prekindergarten class, at least one prekindergarten instructor who meets each of the following requirements: 1. The prekindergarten instructor must hold, at a minimum, one of the following credentials:
a. A child development associate credential issued by the National Credentialing Program of the Council for Professional Recognition; or
b. A credential approved by the Department of Children and Family Services as being equivalent to or greater than the credential described in sub-subparagraph a.
The Department of Children and Family Services may adopt rules under ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 which provide criteria and procedures for approving equivalent credentials under sub-subparagraph b.
2. The prekindergarten instructor must successfully complete an emergent literacy training course approved by the department as meeting or exceeding the minimum standards adopted under s. 1002.59. This subparagraph does not apply to a prekindergarten instructor who successfully completes approved training in early literacy and language development under s. 402.305(2)(d)5., s. 402.313(6), or s. 402.3131(5) before the establishment of one or more emergent literacy training courses under s. 1002.59 or April 1, 2005, whichever occurs later. (d) Each prekindergarten instructor employed by the private prekindergarten provider must be of good moral character, must be screened using the level 2 screening standards in s. 435.04 before employment and rescreened at least once every 5 years, must be denied employment or terminated if required under s. 435.06, and must not be ineligible to teach in a public school because his or her educator certificate is suspended or revoked.
(e) A private prekindergarten provider may assign a substitute instructor to temporarily replace a credentialed instructor if the credentialed instructor assigned to a prekindergarten class is absent, as long as the substitute instructor is of good moral character and has been screened before employment in accordance with level 2 background screening requirements in chapter 435. The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall adopt rules to implement this paragraph which shall include required qualifications of substitute instructors and the circumstances and time limits for which a private prekindergarten provider may assign a substitute instructor.
(f) Each of the private prekindergarten provider’s prekindergarten classes must be composed of at least 4 students but may not exceed 18 students. In order to protect the health and safety of students, each private prekindergarten provider must also provide appropriate adult supervision for students at all times and, for each prekindergarten class composed of 11 or more students, must have, in addition to a prekindergarten instructor who meets the requirements of paragraph (c), at least one adult prekindergarten instructor who is not required to meet those requirements but who must meet each requirement of paragraph (d). This paragraph does not supersede any requirement imposed on a provider under ss. 402.301-402.319. (g) Before the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year, the private prekindergarten provider must have a prekindergarten director who has a prekindergarten director credential that is approved by the department as meeting or exceeding the minimum standards adopted under s. 1002.57. Successful completion of a child care facility director credential under s. 402.305(2)(f) before the establishment of the prekindergarten director credential under s. 1002.57 or July 1, 2006, whichever occurs later, satisfies the requirement for a prekindergarten director credential under this paragraph.
(h) The private prekindergarten provider must register with the early learning coalition on forms prescribed by the Agency for Workforce Innovation.
(i) The private prekindergarten provider must deliver the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program in accordance with this part.
(4) A prekindergarten instructor, in lieu of the minimum credentials and courses required under paragraph (3)(c), may hold one of the following educational credentials:
(a) A bachelor’s or higher degree in early childhood education, prekindergarten or primary education, preschool education, or family and consumer science;
(b) A bachelor’s or higher degree in elementary education, if the prekindergarten instructor has been certified to teach children any age from birth through 6th grade, regardless of whether the instructor’s educator certificate is current, and if the instructor is not ineligible to teach in a public school because his or her educator certificate is suspended or revoked;
(c) An associate’s or higher degree in child development;
(d) An associate’s or higher degree in an unrelated field, at least 6 credit hours in early childhood education or child development, and at least 480 hours of experience in teaching or providing child care services for children any age from birth through 8 years of age; or
(e) An educational credential approved by the department as being equivalent to or greater than an educational credential described in this subsection. The department may adopt criteria and procedures for approving equivalent educational credentials under this paragraph.
(5) Notwithstanding paragraph (3)(b), a private prekindergarten provider may not participate in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program if the provider has child disciplinary policies that do not prohibit children from being subjected to discipline that is severe, humiliating, frightening, or associated with food, rest, toileting, spanking, or any other form of physical punishment as provided in s. 402.305(12).