The Office of Early Learning is prioritizing the needs of first responders and health care workers by expanding access to the
School Readiness program
. Employees in these two fields may now qualify for the School Readiness program, regardless of household income, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to refer an employee for this service, their employer’s Human Resource Department must complete a Child Care Application and Authorization (referral) Form and send it to us at the Coalition. This funding can be utilized at any approved School Readiness provider and your usual reimbursement rates will apply. Children with this funding will appear under the billing group BG1-ESS and care will be authorized up to 3 months at a time.
If you currently have a child enrolled in your program and they have a parent who is a first responder or health care worker, please have them reach out to us at
for more information on this program.
Further information can be downloaded here as well as found on the Coalition's website -
Family Eligibility Requirements:
Q: Which families are eligible to receive school readiness services via the first responders and health care workers referral?
A: Families where one or both of the parents are employed as a first responder or health care worker are eligible for services via the referral issued through their employer.
Q:How long will school readiness services be available under this option?
A: The referral authorizes a purpose for care for three (3) months. These families will be given a 12-month eligibility authorization in increments of three months for as long as the COVID-19 emergency declaration is in effect.
What happens if a first responder or health care worker’s referral expires and is not renewed while the COVID-19 emergency declaration is still in effect?
A: If the family’s income is at or above 85% SMI, school readiness services will be discontinued when the referral expires. If the family’s income is below 85% SMI, the family can be rolled over to the economically disadvantaged billing group (BG8-ECON) and continue to receive services for the reminder of the 12-month authorization.
Redetermination will occur in accordance with normal school readiness procedures.
Coordination with Child Care Providers:
Q: Which child care providers can be used to provide services to first responders and health care workers needing child care?
A: Child care providers that currently have a School Readiness contract with the coalition or RCMA are eligible to have children enrolled in their programs. This includes family child care homes. If a provider does not have a school readiness contract with a coalition, the provider will need to request to apply for a contract and comply with the contract execution process in EFS Mod.
Q: Is there an incentive for providers that remain open or open their child care facility to serve children of first responders or health care workers?
A: Yes. Providers will receive a monthly bonus/incentive of $500 per child of a first responder or health care worker for a maximum of $4,000 per month per provider or $12,000 for three months per provider. The incentive is in addition to the school readiness rate the contracted provider receives.
Remember Providers, you may contact your Coalition representative by email during this time as staff continues to work remotely to help contain COVID19. Your representative's email address will be found on the Coalition's website under the
About Us tab
or you may email us at
Steve Knobl, Ph.D.
Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, Inc.
15500 County Line Road
Spring Hill, FL 34610