Florida budget cuts reduce early childhood education services

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Florida's contentious 2011 legislative session leaves up to 5,000 Miami-Dade & Monroe County children without school readiness services from the Early Learning Coalition

Florida's early childhood education budget, cut by $13,000,000 in the 2011 legislative session, is leading to dis-enrollment of up to 5,000 South Florida children receiving school readiness services from the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of Miami-Dade & Monroe Counties.

Free Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten classes will have a slightly lower teacher-to-student ratio. School Readiness programs are being reduced. The following letter will be arriving in mailboxes of affected families:

"As a result of the 2011 Florida legislative session, the early care and education budget has been significantly reduced by $13 million. Accordingly, effective July 1, 2011, the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe must undergo 10% across-the-board budget cuts. All levels of the organization including programs will be affected.

Due to these budget reductions, it is with the deepest regret that the ELC will not be able to serve the more than 5,000 school-age children currently participating in Florida's subsidized school readiness program. In order to comply with the Coalition’s legislative mandate, disenrollment of children will be implemented effective September 1, 2011. School-age children in the BG8 category will be disenrolled first and each subsequent age-category will be disenrolled thereafter until the target budget is reached. As mandated by the existing ELC disenrollment policy, children ages 0 to 5 must be given the highest priority.

The Early Learning Coalition board of directors, staff and I share heavy hearts as we proceed with the implementation of the disenrollment process. While we absolutely understand you will feel disappointment as a result of this news, the only filed grievances we may consider are those that are ‘technical’ in nature and consistent with our grievance policy. Enclosed you will find a copy of the policy. Technical grievances must be submitted in written form and received by the Coalition no later than July 15, 2011. An example of a technical grievance includes the unauthorized disenrollment of a child due to a mistaken identity (name) and/or incorrect birthdate.

Once again, please know how deeply troubled we, and all child advocates, are by these budget cuts. We fully understand how its consequences will create an additional burden on you and your family, and for this I offer my heartfelt apology and most sincere regret.

As always, I am at your service.
Sincerely,
Evelio C. Torres
President & CEO"

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