2004 Florida Statutes
Florida Partnership for School Readiness; school readiness coalitions.
(1) SHORT TITLE.--This section may be cited as the "School Readiness Act."
(2) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.--
(a) The Legislature recognizes that school readiness programs increase children's chances of achieving future educational success and becoming productive members of society. It is the intent of the Legislature that such programs be developmentally appropriate, research-based, involve parents as their child's first teacher, serve as preventive measures for children at risk of future school failure, enhance the educational readiness of eligible children, and support family education. Each school readiness program shall provide the elements necessary to prepare at-risk children for school, including health screening and referral and an appropriate educational program.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that school readiness programs be operated on a full-day, year-round basis to the maximum extent possible to enable parents to work and become financially self-sufficient.
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that school readiness programs not exist as isolated programs, but build upon existing services and work in cooperation with other programs for young children, and that school readiness programs be coordinated and funding integrated to achieve full effectiveness.
(d) It is the intent of the Legislature that the administrative staff at the state level for school readiness programs be kept to the minimum necessary to carry out the duties of the Florida Partnership for School Readiness, as the school readiness programs are to be locally designed, operated, and managed, with the Florida Partnership for School Readiness adopting a system for measuring school readiness; developing school readiness program performance standards, outcome measurements, and data design and review; and approving and reviewing local school readiness coalitions and plans.
(e) It is the intent of the Legislature that appropriations for combined school readiness programs shall not be less than the programs would receive in any fiscal year on an uncombined basis.
(f) It is the intent of the Legislature that the school readiness program coordinate and operate in conjunction with the district school systems. However, it is also the intent of the Legislature that the school readiness program not be construed as part of the system of free public schools but rather as a separate program for children under the age of kindergarten eligibility, funded separately from the system of free public schools, utilizing a mandatory sliding fee scale, and providing an integrated and seamless system of school readiness services for the state's birth-to-kindergarten population.
(g) It is the intent of the Legislature that the federal child care income tax credit be preserved for school readiness programs.
(h) It is the intent of the Legislature that school readiness services shall be an integrated and seamless system of services with a developmentally appropriate education component for the state's eligible birth-to-kindergarten population described in subsection (6) and shall not be construed as part of the seamless K-20 education system except for the administration of the uniform screening system upon entry into kindergarten.
(3) SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAM.--
(a) The school readiness program shall be phased in on a coalition-by-coalition basis. Each coalition's school readiness program shall have available to it funding from all the coalition's early education and child care programs that are funded with state, federal, lottery, or local funds, including but not limited to Florida First Start programs, Even-Start literacy programs, prekindergarten early intervention programs, Head Start programs, programs offered by public and private providers of child care, migrant prekindergarten programs, Title I programs, subsidized child care programs, and teen parent programs, together with any additional funds appropriated or obtained for purposes of this section. These programs and their funding streams shall be components of the coalition's integrated school readiness program, with the goal of preparing children for success in school.
(b) Nothing contained in this act is intended to:
1. Relieve parents and guardians of their own obligations to ready their children for school; or
2. Create any obligation to provide publicly funded school readiness programs or services beyond those authorized by the Legislature.
(4) FLORIDA PARTNERSHIP FOR SCHOOL READINESS.--
(a) The Florida Partnership for School Readiness was created to fulfill three major purposes: to administer school readiness program services that help parents prepare eligible children for school; to coordinate the provision of school readiness services on a full-day, full-year, full-choice basis to the extent possible in order to enable parents to work and be financially self-sufficient; and to establish a uniform screening instrument to be implemented by the Department of Education and administered by the school districts upon entry into kindergarten to assess the readiness for school of all children. Readiness for kindergarten is the outcome measure of the success of each school readiness program that receives state or federal funds. The partnership is assigned to the Agency for Workforce Innovation for administrative purposes.
(b) The Florida Partnership for School Readiness shall:
1. Coordinate the birth-to-kindergarten services for children who are eligible pursuant to subsection (6) and the programmatic, administrative, and fiscal standards pursuant to this section for all public providers of school readiness programs.
2. Continue to provide unified leadership for school readiness through local school readiness coalitions.
3. Focus on improving the educational quality of all publicly funded school readiness programs.
(c)1. The Florida Partnership for School Readiness shall include the Lieutenant Governor, the Commissioner of Education, the Secretary of Children and Family Services, and the Secretary of Health, or their designees, and the chair of the Child Care Executive Partnership Board, and the chairperson of the Board of Directors of Workforce Florida, Inc. When the Lieutenant Governor or an agency head appoints a designee, the designee must be an individual who attends consistently, and, in the event that the Lieutenant Governor or agency head and his or her designee both attend a meeting, only one of them may vote.
2. The partnership shall also include 14 members of the public who shall be business, community, and civic leaders in the state who are not elected to public office. These members and their families must not have a direct contract with any local coalition to provide school readiness services. The members must be geographically and demographically representative of the state. Each member shall be appointed by the Governor from a list of nominees submitted by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. By July 1, 2001, four members shall be appointed as follows: two members shall be from the child care industry, one representing the private for-profit sector appointed by the Governor from a list of two nominees submitted by the President of the Senate and one representing faith-based providers appointed by the Governor from a list of two nominees submitted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and two members shall be from the business community, one appointed by the Governor from a list of two nominees submitted by the President of the Senate and one appointed by the Governor from a list of two nominees submitted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Members shall be appointed to 4-year terms of office. The members of the partnership shall elect a chairperson annually from the nongovernmental members of the partnership. Any vacancy on the partnership shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.
(d) The partnership shall meet at least quarterly but may meet as often as it deems necessary to carry out its duties and responsibilities. Members of the partnership shall participate without proxy at the quarterly meetings. The partnership may take official action by a majority vote of the members present at any meeting at which a quorum is present.
(e) Members of the partnership are subject to the ethics provisions in part III of chapter 112, and no member may derive any financial benefit from the funds administered by the Florida Partnership for School Readiness.
(f) Members of the partnership shall serve without compensation but are entitled to reimbursement for per diem and travel expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as provided in s. 112.061, and reimbursement for other reasonable, necessary, and actual expenses.
(g) For the purposes of tort liability, the members of the partnership and its employees shall be governed by s. 768.28
(h) The partnership shall appoint an executive director who shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The executive director shall perform the duties assigned to him or her by the partnership. The executive director shall be responsible for hiring, subject to the approval of the partnership, all employees and staff members, who shall serve under his or her direction and control.
(i) For purposes of administration of the federal Child Care and Development Fund, 45 C.F.R. parts 98 and 99, the partnership may be designated by the Governor as the lead agency, and if so designated shall comply with the lead agency responsibilities pursuant to federal law.
(j) The Florida Partnership for School Readiness is the principal organization responsible for the enhancement of school readiness for the state's children, and shall:
1. Be responsible for the prudent use of all public and private funds in accordance with all legal and contractual requirements.
2. Provide final approval and periodic review of coalitions and plans.
3. Provide leadership for enhancement of school readiness in this state by aggressively establishing a unified approach to the state's efforts toward enhancement of school readiness. In support of this effort, the partnership may develop and implement specific strategies that address the state's school readiness programs.
4. Safeguard the effective use of federal, state, local, and private resources to achieve the highest possible level of school readiness for the state's children.
5. Provide technical assistance to coalitions.
6. Assess gaps in service.
7. Provide technical assistance to counties that form a multicounty coalition.
8.a. Adopt a system for measuring school readiness that provides objective data regarding the expectations for school readiness, and establish a method for collecting the data and guidelines for using the data. The measurement, the data collection, and the use of the data must serve the statewide school readiness goal. The criteria for determining which data to collect should be the usefulness of the data to state policymakers and local program administrators in administering programs and allocating state funds, and must include the tracking of school readiness system information back to individual school readiness programs to assist in determining program effectiveness.
b. Adopt a system for evaluating the performance of students through the third grade to compare the performance of those who participated in school readiness programs with the performance of students who did not participate in school readiness programs in order to identify strategies for continued successful student performance.
9. Develop and adopt performance standards and outcome measures.
(k) The partnership may adopt rules necessary to administer the provisions of this section which relate to preparing and implementing the system for school readiness, collecting data, approving local school readiness coalitions and plans, providing a method whereby a coalition can serve two or more counties, awarding incentives to coalitions, and issuing waivers.
(l) The Florida Partnership for School Readiness shall have all powers necessary to carry out the purposes of this section, including, but not limited to, the power to receive and accept grants, loans, or advances of funds from any public or private agency and to receive and accept from any source contributions of money, property, labor, or any other thing of value, to be held, used, and applied for the purposes of this section.
(m) The Florida Partnership for School Readiness shall have a budget, and shall be financed through an annual appropriation made for this purpose in the General Appropriations Act.
(n) The partnership shall coordinate the efforts toward school readiness in this state and provide independent policy analyses and recommendations to the Governor, the State Board of Education, and the Legislature.
(o) The partnership shall prepare and submit to the State Board of Education a system for measuring school readiness. The system must include a uniform screening, which shall provide objective data regarding the following expectations for school readiness which shall include, at a minimum:
1. The child's immunizations and other health requirements as necessary, including appropriate vision and hearing screening and examinations.
2. The child's physical development.
3. The child's compliance with rules, limitations, and routines.
4. The child's ability to perform tasks.
5. The child's interactions with adults.
6. The child's interactions with peers.
7. The child's ability to cope with challenges.
8. The child's self-help skills.
9. The child's ability to express his or her needs.
10. The child's verbal communication skills.
11. The child's problem-solving skills.
12. The child's following of verbal directions.
13. The child's demonstration of curiosity, persistence, and exploratory behavior.
14. The child's interest in books and other printed materials.
15. The child's paying attention to stories.
16. The child's participation in art and music activities.
17. The child's ability to identify colors, geometric shapes, letters of the alphabet, numbers, and spatial and temporal relationships.
(p) The partnership shall prepare a plan for implementing the system for measuring school readiness in such a way that all children in this state will undergo the uniform screening established by the partnership when they enter kindergarten. Children who enter public school for the first time in first grade must undergo a uniform screening approved by the partnership for use in first grade. Because children with disabilities may not be able to meet all of the identified expectations for school readiness, the plan for measuring school readiness shall incorporate mechanisms for recognizing the potential variations in expectations for school readiness when serving children with disabilities and shall provide for communities to serve children with disabilities.
(q) The partnership shall conduct studies and planning activities related to the overall improvement and effectiveness of school readiness measures.
(r) The partnership shall establish procedures for performance-based budgeting in school readiness programs.
(s) The partnership shall submit an annual report of its activities to the Governor, the executive director of the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the minority leaders of both houses of the Legislature. In addition, the partnership's reports and recommendations shall be made available to the State Board of Education, other appropriate state agencies and entities, district school boards, central agencies for child care, and county health departments. The annual report must provide an analysis of school readiness activities across the state, including the number of children who were served in the programs and the number of children who were ready for school.
(t) The partnership shall work with school readiness coalitions to increase parents' training for and involvement in their children's preschool education and to provide family literacy activities and programs.
To ensure that the system for measuring school readiness is comprehensive and appropriate statewide, as the system is developed and implemented, the partnership must consult with representatives of district school systems, providers of public and private child care, health care providers, large and small employers, experts in education for children with disabilities, and experts in child development.
(5) CREATION OF SCHOOL READINESS COALITIONS.--
(a) School readiness coalitions.--
1. If a coalition's plan would serve less than 400 birth-to-kindergarten age children, the coalition must either join with another county to form a multicounty coalition, enter an agreement with a fiscal agent to serve more than one coalition, or demonstrate to the partnership its ability to effectively and efficiently implement its plan as a single-county coalition and meet all required performance standards and outcome measures.
2. Each coalition shall have at least 18 but not more than 25 members and such members must include the following:
a. A Department of Children and Family Services district administrator or his or her designee who is authorized to make decisions on behalf of the department.
b. A district superintendent of schools or his or her designee who is authorized to make decisions on behalf of the district.
c. A regional workforce development board chair or director, where applicable.
d. A county health department director or his or her designee.
e. A children's services council or juvenile welfare board chair or executive director, if applicable.
f. A child care licensing agency head.
g. One member appointed by a Department of Children and Family Services district administrator.
h. One member appointed by a board of county commissioners.
i. One member appointed by a district school board.
j. A central child care agency administrator.
k. A Head Start director.
l. A representative of private child care providers.
m. A representative of faith-based child care providers.
More than one-third of the coalition members must be from the private sector, and neither they nor their families may earn an income from the early education and child care industry. To meet this requirement a coalition must appoint additional members from a list of nominees presented to the coalition by a chamber of commerce or economic development council within the geographic area of the coalition.
3. No member of a coalition may appoint a designee to act in his or her place. A member may send a representative to coalition meetings, but that representative will have no voting privileges. When a district superintendent of schools or a district administrator for the Department of Children and Family Services appoints a designee to a school readiness coalition, the designee will be the voting member of the coalition, and any individual attending in his or her place, including the district administrator or superintendent, will have no voting privileges.
4. Members of the coalition are subject to the ethics provisions in part III of chapter 112.
5. For the purposes of tort liability, the members of the school readiness coalition and its employees shall be governed by s. 768.28
6. Multicounty coalitions shall include representation from each county.
7. The terms of all appointed members of the coalition must be staggered. Appointed members may serve a maximum of two terms. When a vacancy occurs in an appointed position, the coalition must advertise the vacancy.
(b) Program participation.--The school readiness program shall be established for children from birth to 5 years of age or until the child enters kindergarten. The program shall be administered by the school readiness coalition. Within funding limitations, the school readiness coalition, along with all providers, shall make reasonable efforts to accommodate the needs of children for extended-day and extended-year services without compromising the quality of the program.
(c) Program expectations.--
1. The school readiness program must meet the following expectations:
a. The program must prepare preschool children to enter kindergarten ready to learn, as measured by criteria established by the Florida Partnership for School Readiness.
b. The program must provide extended-day and extended-year services to the maximum extent possible to meet the needs of parents who work.
c. There must be coordinated staff development and teaching opportunities.
d. There must be expanded access to community services and resources for families to help achieve economic self-sufficiency.
e. There must be a single point of entry and unified waiting list.
f. As long as funding or eligible populations do not decrease, the program must serve at least as many children as were served prior to implementation of the program.
g. There must be a community plan to address the needs of all eligible children.
h. The program must meet all state licensing guidelines, where applicable.
2. The school readiness coalition must implement a comprehensive program of readiness services that enhance the cognitive, social, and physical development of children to achieve the performance standards and outcome measures specified by the partnership. At a minimum, these programs must contain the following elements:
a. Developmentally appropriate curriculum.
b. A character development program to develop basic values.
c. An age-appropriate assessment of each child's development.
d. A pretest administered to children when they enter a program and a posttest administered to children when they leave the program.
e. An appropriate staff-to-child ratio.
f. A healthful and safe environment.
g. A resource and referral network to assist parents in making an informed choice.
1. The school readiness program is to be phased in. Until the coalition implements its plan, the county shall continue to receive the services identified in subsection (3) through the various agencies that would be responsible for delivering those services under current law. Plan implementation is subject to approval of the coalition and the plan by the Florida Partnership for School Readiness.
2. Each school readiness coalition shall develop a plan for implementing the school readiness program to meet the requirements of this section and the performance standards and outcome measures established by the partnership. The plan must include a written description of the role of the program in the coalition's effort to meet the first state education goal, readiness to start school, including a description of the plan to involve the prekindergarten early intervention programs, Head Start Programs, programs offered by public or private providers of child care, preschool programs for children with disabilities, programs for migrant children, Title I programs, subsidized child care programs, and teen parent programs. The plan must also demonstrate how the program will ensure that each 3-year-old and 4-year-old child in a publicly funded school readiness program receives scheduled activities and instruction designed to prepare children to enter kindergarten ready to learn. Prior to implementation of the program, the school readiness coalition must submit the plan to the partnership for approval. The partnership may approve the plan, reject the plan, or approve the plan with conditions. The Florida Partnership for School Readiness shall review coalition plans at least annually.
3. The plan for the school readiness program must include the following minimum standards and provisions:
a. A sliding fee scale establishing a copayment for parents based upon their ability to pay, which is the same for all program providers, to be implemented and reflected in each program's budget.
b. A choice of settings and locations in licensed, registered, religious-exempt, or school-based programs to be provided to parents.
c. Instructional staff who have completed the training course as required in s. 402.305(2)(d)1., as well as staff who have additional training or credentials as required by the partnership. The plan must provide a method for assuring the qualifications of all personnel in all program settings.
d. Specific eligibility priorities for children within the coalition's county pursuant to subsection (6).
e. Performance standards and outcome measures established by the partnership or alternatively, standards and outcome measures to be used until such time as the partnership adopts such standards and outcome measures.
f. Reimbursement rates that have been developed by the coalition. Reimbursement rates shall not have the effect of limiting parental choice or creating standards or levels of services that have not been authorized by the Legislature.
g. Systems support services, including a central agency, child care resource and referral, eligibility determinations, training of providers, and parent support and involvement.
h. Direct enhancement services to families and children. System support and direct enhancement services shall be in addition to payments for the placement of children in school readiness programs.
i. A business plan, which must include the contract with a school readiness agent if the coalition is not a legally established corporate entity. Coalitions may contract with other coalitions to achieve efficiency in multiple-county services, and such contracts may be part of the coalition's business plan.
j. Strategies to meet the needs of unique populations, such as migrant workers.
As part of the plan, the coalition may request the Governor to apply for a waiver to allow the coalition to administer the Head Start Program to accomplish the purposes of the school readiness program. If any school readiness plan can demonstrate that specific statutory goals can be achieved more effectively by using procedures that require modification of existing rules, policies, or procedures, a request for a waiver to the partnership may be made as part of the plan. Upon review, the partnership may grant the proposed modification.
4. Persons with an early childhood teaching certificate may provide support and supervision to other staff in the school readiness program.
5. The coalition may not implement its plan until it submits the plan to and receives approval from the partnership. Once the plan has been approved, the plan and the services provided under the plan shall be controlled by the coalition rather than by the state agencies or departments. The plan shall be reviewed and revised as necessary, but at least biennially.
6. The following statutes will not apply to local coalitions with approved plans: ss. 125.901(2)(a)3., 411.221, and 411.232 To facilitate innovative practices and to allow local establishment of school readiness programs, a school readiness coalition may apply to the Governor and Cabinet for a waiver of, and the Governor and Cabinet may waive, any of the provisions of ss. 411.223, 411.232, and 1003.54 if the waiver is necessary for implementation of the coalition's school readiness plan.
7. Two or more counties may join for the purpose of planning and implementing a school readiness program.
8. A coalition may, subject to approval of the partnership as part of the coalition's plan, receive subsidized child care funds for all children eligible for any federal subsidized child care program and be the provider of the program services.
9. Coalitions are authorized to enter into multiparty contracts with multicounty service providers in order to meet the needs of unique populations such as migrant workers.
(e) Requests for proposals; payment schedule.--
1. At least once every 3 years, beginning July 1, 2001, each coalition must follow the competitive procurement requirements of s. 287.057 for school readiness programs.
2. Each coalition shall develop a payment schedule that encompasses all programs funded by that coalition. The payment schedule must take into consideration the relevant market rate, must include the projected number of children to be served, and must be submitted to the partnership for information. Informal child care arrangements shall be reimbursed at not more than 50 percent of the rate developed for family childcare.
(f) Requirements relating to fiscal agents.--If the local coalition is not a legally established corporate entity, the coalition must designate a fiscal agent, which may be a public entity or a private nonprofit organization. The fiscal agent shall be required to provide financial and administrative services pursuant to a contract or agreement with the school readiness coalition. The fiscal agent may not provide direct early education or child care services; however, a fiscal agent may provide such services upon written request of the coalition to the partnership and upon the approval of such request by the partnership. The cost of the financial and administrative services shall be negotiated between the fiscal agent and the school readiness coalition. If the fiscal agent is a provider of early education and care programs, the contract must specify that the fiscal agent will act on policy direction from the coalition and will not receive policy direction from its own corporate board regarding disbursal of coalition funds. The fiscal agent shall disburse funds in accordance with the approved coalition school readiness plan and based on billing and disbursement procedures approved by the partnership. The fiscal agent must conform to all data-reporting requirements established by the partnership.
(g) Evaluation and annual report.--Each school readiness coalition shall conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of the school readiness program, including performance standards and outcome measures, and shall provide an annual report and fiscal statement to the Florida Partnership for School Readiness. This report must conform to the content and format specifications set by the Florida Partnership for School Readiness. The partnership must include an analysis of the coalition reports in its annual report.
(6) PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY.--The school readiness program shall be established for children under the age of kindergarten eligibility. Priority for participation in the school readiness program shall be given to children age 3 years to school entry who are served by the Family Safety Program Office of the Department of Children and Family Services or a community-based lead agency pursuant to chapter 39 and for whom child care is needed to minimize risk of further abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Other eligible populations include children who meet one or more of the following criteria:
(a) Children under the age of kindergarten eligibility who are:
1. Children at risk of welfare dependency, including economically disadvantaged children, children of participants in the welfare transition program, children of migrant farmworkers, and children of teen parents.
2. Children of working families whose family income does not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
3. Children for whom the state is paying a relative caregiver payment under s. 39.5085
(b) Three-year-old children and 4-year-old children who may not be economically disadvantaged but who have disabilities, have been served in a specific part-time or combination of part-time exceptional education programs with required special services, aids, or equipment, and were previously reported for funding part time with the Florida Education Finance Program as exceptional students.
(c) Economically disadvantaged children, children with disabilities, and children at risk of future school failure, from birth to 4 years of age, who are served at home through home visitor programs and intensive parent education programs such as the Florida First Start Program.
(d) Children who meet federal and state requirements for eligibility for the migrant preschool program but who do not meet the criteria of economically disadvantaged.
An "economically disadvantaged" child means a child whose family income is below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Notwithstanding any change in a family's economic status, but subject to additional family contributions in accordance with the sliding fee scale, a child who meets the eligibility requirements upon initial registration for the program shall be considered eligible until the child reaches kindergarten age.
(7) PARENTAL CHOICE.--
(a) The school readiness program shall provide parental choice pursuant to a purchase service order that ensures, to the maximum extent possible, flexibility in school readiness programs and payment arrangements. According to federal regulations requiring parental choice, a parent may choose an informal child care arrangement. The purchase order must bear the name of the beneficiary and the program provider and, when redeemed, must bear the signature of both the beneficiary and an authorized representative of the provider.
(b) If it is determined that a provider has provided any cash to the beneficiary in return for receiving the purchase order, the coalition or its fiscal agent shall refer the matter to the Division of Public Assistance Fraud for investigation.
(c) The office of the Chief Financial Officer shall establish an electronic transfer system for the disbursement of funds in accordance with this subsection. School readiness coalitions shall fully implement the electronic funds transfer system within 2 years after plan approval unless a waiver is obtained from the partnership.
(8) STANDARDS; OUTCOME MEASURES.--All publicly funded school readiness programs shall be required to meet the performance standards and outcome measures developed and approved by the partnership. The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability shall provide consultation to the partnership in the development of the measures and standards. These performance standards and outcome measures shall be applicable on a statewide basis.
(9) FUNDING; SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAM.--
(a) It is the intent of this section to establish an integrated and quality seamless service delivery system for all publicly funded early education and child care programs operating in this state.
(b) Notwithstanding s. 20.50:
1. The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall administer school readiness funds, plans, and policies pursuant to the contract with the Florida Partnership for School Readiness and shall prepare and submit a unified budget request for the school readiness program in accordance with chapter 216.
2. All instructions to local school readiness coalitions shall emanate from the Agency for Workforce Innovation pursuant to policies of the Legislature, plans of the Florida Partnership for School Readiness, and the contract between the Florida Partnership for School Readiness and the agency.
(c) The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall prepare a plan that provides for the distribution and expenditure of all state and federal school readiness funds for children participating in public or private school readiness programs based upon an equity and performance funding formula. The plan shall be submitted to the Governor and the Legislative Budget Commission. Upon approval, the Legislative Budget Commission shall authorize the transfer of funds to the Agency for Workforce Innovation for distribution in accordance with the provisions of the formula.
(d) All state funds budgeted for a county for the programs specified in subsection (3), along with the pro rata share of the state administrative costs of those programs in the amount as determined by the partnership, all federal funds and required local matching funds for a county for programs specified in subsection (3), and any additional funds appropriated or obtained for purposes of this section, shall be transferred for the benefit of the coalition for implementation of its plan, including the hiring of staff to effectively operate the coalition's school readiness program. As part of plan approval and periodic plan review, the partnership shall require that administrative costs be kept to the minimum necessary for efficient and effective administration of the plan, but total administrative expenditures shall not exceed 5 percent unless specifically waived by the partnership. The partnership shall annually report to the Legislature any problems relating to administrative costs.
(e) The partnership shall annually distribute all eligible funds as block grants to assist coalitions in integrating services and funding to develop a quality service delivery system. Subject to appropriation, the partnership may also provide financial awards to coalitions demonstrating success in merging and integrating funding streams to serve children and school readiness programs.
(f) State funds appropriated for the school readiness program may not be used for the construction of new facilities or the purchase of buses. The partnership shall present to the Legislature recommendations for providing necessary transportation services for school readiness programs.
(g) All cost savings and all revenues received through a mandatory sliding fee scale shall be used to help fund the local school readiness program.
(10) SCHOOL READINESS UNIFORM SCREENING.--The Department of Education shall implement a school readiness uniform screening, including a pilot program during the 2001-2002 school year, to validate the system recommended by the Florida Partnership for School Readiness as part of a comprehensive evaluation design. Beginning with the 2002-2003 school year, the department shall require that all school districts administer the school readiness uniform screening to each kindergarten student in the district school system upon the student's entry into kindergarten. Children who enter public school for the first time in first grade must undergo a uniform screening adopted for use in first grade. The department shall incorporate school readiness data into the K-20 data warehouse for longitudinal tracking. Notwithstanding s. 1002.22, the department shall provide the partnership and the Agency for Workforce Innovation with complete and full access to kindergarten uniform screening data at the student, school, district, and state levels in a format that will enable the partnership and the agency to prepare reports needed by state policymakers and local school readiness coalitions to access progress toward school readiness goals and provide input for continuous improvement of local school readiness services and programs.
(11) REPORTS.--The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability shall assess the implementation, efficiency, and outcomes of the school readiness program and report its findings to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by January 1, 2002. Subsequent reviews shall be conducted at the direction of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee.
(12) CONFLICTING PROVISIONS.--In the event of a conflict between the provisions of this section and federal requirements, the federal requirements shall control.
1(13) PLACEMENTS.--Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, and for fiscal year 2004-2005 only, the first children to be placed in the school readiness program shall be those from families receiving temporary cash assistance and subject to federal work requirements. Subsequent placements shall be pursuant to the provisions of this section. This subsection expires July 1, 2005.
History.--s. 1, ch. 99-357; s. 65, ch. 2000-139; s. 1, ch. 2000-149; s. 97, ch. 2000-165; s. 12, ch. 2000-337; s. 55, ch. 2001-62; s. 13, ch. 2001-89; s. 20, ch. 2001-170; s. 114, ch. 2001-266; s. 4, ch. 2002-38; s. 998, ch. 2002-387; ss. 59, 79, ch. 2002-402; s. 48, ch. 2003-1; s. 453, ch. 2003-261; s. 3, ch. 2003-292; s. 74, ch. 2003-399; s. 49, ch. 2004-269.
1Note.--Section 49, ch. 2004-269, amended subsection (13) "[i]n order to implement Specific Appropriations 2122F and 2122G of the 2004-2005 General Appropriations Act."