Tag Archives: school

Finding a preschool

87803131_smallFinding a preschool for your child is a very important decision. Before you know it, the 2013-2014 school year will have begun. Here are some questions and resources that may help you as you look for a school for your young child (be sure to check out back-to-school discount info at the bottom of the post!):

 

  • Is the facility licensed by the State of Florida? Some Florida child care centers also earn a Gold Seal designation, reflecting quality in the level of care and supervision provided to children.  Visit our online search to identify licensed child care providers and see inspection histories.
  • Are all teachers are up-to-date on training requirements?
  • Does the facility meet all staff-to-child ratios?
  • What kind of curriculum do they offer? Is it developmentally appropriate?
  • Do staff have positive, nurturing interaction with the children?
  • Do the children appear to be happy and comfortable in their surroundings?
  • Are the children constantly supervised? Is each staff member responsible for the same children each day?
  • How do they keep parents informed about their child’s progress and school updates? How frequently are communications sent to parents?
  • Does the facility have clean, safe surroundings?
  • Do they provide healthy, nutritious snacks and/or meals?

Here are the minimum ratios of children:teacher required by law:

child care

Additional information and requirements regarding all the above issues are detailed in the Florida Administrative Code Child Care Standards.

If your child is 4 years of age by September 1, your child may be eligible for Florida’s FREE VPK program.

In addition, the back-to-school sales tax holiday will be August 2-4. During this period, no Florida sales tax or local option tax will be collected on sales of clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $75 or less per item, on certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item, and on computers and certain related accessories selling for $750 or less per item when purchased for noncommercial home or personal use. This is the first time that computers and related accessories have been included in the holiday. Check out the Florida Department of Revenue website for more info.

 Have a safe and wonderful school year!

How one mother “stepped up” for her son’s education

Guest blog post by Step Up For Students, the nonprofit organization that administers the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Step Up’s goal is to provide an equal education opportunity for low-income Florida students. To receive notifications about scholarships available for the 2013-2014 school year, sign up for alerts.

Davion

Davion Manuel-McKenney was just weeks away from starting his new life as a college student when he was flipping through a family photo album and came across an image of his mother and him from many years ago. In the photo, the toddler is perched atop his mother’s lap, and her arms are wrapped around his tiny body.  And both flash electric smiles.

The reminiscing inspired Davion to post the photograph on his Facebook page with a note to his mother: “We have come a long way. Love U Ma.”

In the beginning, the odds to attend college weren’t in his favor if only the basic facts of his life were considered. He was born to an unwed teenaged mother who at the time hadn’t completed her own education. But with the love of his mother and family, and the help of many others along the way, Davion is now a freshman at Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Both mother and son said they were saddened to have Davion move about 85 miles north of his home in Ormond Beach, but it was time for him to live out what they have been working toward since his mother, Faith, was just 15.

She married Davion’s father, Nicholas McKenney, and they went on to have two more children. While the couple’s marriage didn’t last, their dedication to their children remained intact and does today. Still, for Faith, the financial struggles that often come with being a single mother were very much a challenge. When it came time for her eldest child to go to middle school, Faith didn’t like what she saw in the school he was zoned for.

Desperate not to send Davion into such an environment, she started researching alternatives – and a way to pay for them. It was her dream to put her kids in a private school. She was thrilled when Davion received a Step Up scholarship to Calvary Christian Academy, which was part of their church in Ormond Beach. The fit was perfect.

At Calvary, Davion had fewer distractions than at his previous schools and was able to focus more on academics.   He also was on the school’s track and basketball teams, took on the role of student chaplain and enjoyed spending time with the pre-school children. He graduated from high school in the spring of 2012.

Davion is now considering a career in teaching. He  points to people like his teacher Ms. Crickenberger, whom he described as having so much love and passion for her students,  his Calvary family as a whole, and the Step Up scholarship as things that have made a difference in his life. But he always goes back to his mother on the one who has truly blessed him.

When he held the photograph of his younger self and his 17-year-old mom in his hands recently, he reminisced about his life and the woman who made it the best she could. He is also proud that she now has an associate’s degree and plans to further her education as well.

Keeping little bellies full

Guest post by Kimberly Kutch, DCF Community Development Administrator for Circuit 20 (serving Charlotte, Glades, Lee Hendry and Collier counties)

Jolene Mowry knew that, sadly, many children go to bed hungry. She was sure that wasn’t the case in Charlotte County where she lived.

Jolene was in North Carolina speaking to a friend about the number of kids in school who often go hungry.  The friend told Jolene she may be surprised if she spoke with local schools back home.

What Jolene found was frightening. Approximately 455 students in Charlotte County Public School district are homeless.  She decided to do something about it.

Jolene Mowry, Director of The Back Pack Kidz; Angela Kirshy, Back Pack Kidz Volunteer.

Jolene founded the The Yah Yah Girls Inc. Their mission: “Help children in Charlotte County who are homeless, near homeless or who are living in dire financial need.” In November 2010, after much research, planning and fundraising, the Yah Yahs began their Back Pack Kidz Program at Sallie Jones Elementary  School.  By Fall 2011 the Back Pack Kidz program expanded to five elementary schools and hope to continue to grow.

Delivering backpacks to a school

Here’s how Back Pack Kidz works: On Fridays, the Yah Yahs deliver backpacks of healthy, nonperishable, child-friendly food to the schools to distribute to the identified children so they will not go hungry over the weekend. The empty backpacks are picked up early the next week and the process begins again.

Volunteers packing back packs with food.

For the 2012/2013 school year, there are 4,762 students eligible for free and reduced breakfast/lunch in the area. These are children who often do not have access to regular meals outside of schools. In the 2011/2012 school year, about 22,000 backpacks were delivered. Weekly, $107,250 was spent on food for the backpacks.

The Yah Yahs have now become a part of DCF’s Partner for Promise program and will be providing backpacks of food for any elementary school child that may go hungry without additional help.

The power of just one individual is amazing. The power of groups is empowering. It doesn’t take much to make a big difference in your community.

Notes:

If you know a child under age 19 who needs food during the summer months, please visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Summer BreakSpot. The program offers free healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks all summer long.  

Does your business have a service or product that could help needy families in your community? Check out DCF’s Partners for Promise to see how you can help.