The Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County serves approximately 4000 children ages birth to five years old through supporting Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) and School Readiness programs in Alachua County Early Learning Centers. For our hours, contact information, and map, please go to our Contact Us Page.
Our major partners include Florida's Office of Early Learning, United Way, Alachua County, and the City of Gainesville.
If you are interested in working for ELCAC, please see our employment opportunities.
Board of Directors
ELCAC has a dedicated board of directors. A list of board members and board openings can be viewed on our Board of Directors page.
Coalition History/Snapshot of milestones
The School Readiness Act (s.411.FS) created a locally designed, operated, and managed system of fully integrated and coordinated school readiness programs with a state-level partnership providing overall leadership for coordinating programmatic, administrative, and fiscal policies and standards. The Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County (ELCAC), formerly the Alachua County Coalition for School Readiness, began meeting in August 1999 in response to the Florida legislature’s creation of local coalitions.
In July of 2002, ELCAC signed a contract with the Florida Partnership for School Readiness and began administering the $10.4 million in funds that were allocated for Early Care and Education Services. ELCAC contracted services to the School Board of Alachua County and Child Care Resources (CCR). In November 2002, Florida voters approved the Voluntary Pre-kindergarten Education (VPK) program to be administered by ELCAC.
December 2004, saw the passage of House Bill 1A in a special session of the Florida Legislature, implementing VPK. With the signing of the legislation into law in January 2005, by Governor Jeb Bush, Coalitions for School Readiness were transformed into Early Learning Coalitions following the dissolution of the Florida Partnership for School Readiness and the transfer of programs to the Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI).
Effective January 1, 2006, ELCAC assumed the delivery of all direct services which it had previously contracted through Child Care Resources. Direct services administered by ELCAC include: School Readiness Eligibility, Voluntary Pre-kindergarten, Resource & Referral, Screening and Assessment, Inclusion, Technical Assistance and Program Support, Family Involvement, Training, and Reimbursement services. Throughout this change, which required rapid expansion in both staff and facilities, there was no interruption in top quality service to families and children and no delay in reimbursement payments to child care providers.
The Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County relocated to a new space in January 2007 enabling all services and staff to be located in one building. Our Home Visitation Program was expanded through United Way Success by Six funding, doubling the number of families that could be served through this program. ELCAC developed an Intensive Quality Improvement System (IQIS) pilot program, which will be implemented over the next three years.
The ELCAC hosted it's first signature event, the Title Town Hoedown and Bar-B-Que Showdown for Early Education. This event not only raised funds for school readiness but also raised awareness of the coalition's mission to help children and families.
The eligibility lobby was completely remodeled to be warm and inviting and designed to be more efficient for client services. Originally, when the coalition moved in under one roof, the building fit the size needs, but the lobby area was not designed well for clients to be checked or wait to see their Parent Support Specialist. This remodel was needed and created a much more comfortable atmosphere for parents and children.
ELCAC completed its fifth year of coordinating VPK services, providers were supported through a number of trainings including training in new math standards. Math materials were purchased for each VPK classroom to meet math standards and benchmarks. Each provider received their VPK Readiness Rate based on the kindergarten screenings, results from children who participated in VPK during the 2008/09 school term. Technical assistance, mentoring, additional training and detailed lesson plans prepared by the VPK coordinator on how to use the Emergent Literacy Materials were provided to a few struggling providers.
The coalition held its 5th annual Tracks to Success education conference in September. The over 300 participants chose from a variety of sessions relevant to teacher, caregivers and family providers.
Alachua County teachers are now able to earn bachelor degrees in Early Childhood Education (ECE) at Santa Fe College (SFC). The ELCAC has worked with both University of Florida and SFC for over six years to develop a program that would allow students with an Associates of Science in ECE to articulate into a baccalaureate program. The first students to enroll in this program graduated in summer of 2011.
On Friday, March 23, three and four year olds arrived at the SFC teaching zoo for a morning of great activities and animal encounters. A month prior teachers attended a training presented by the ELCAC and teaching zoo staff on great learning activities the children could do while exploring the zoo.
The ELCAC was awarded a Reading is Fundamental (RIF) Macy's Grant, and hosted Family Reading Celebration, Children's Concert with Jack Hartman. Mr. Hartman is a nationally acclaimed singer, author and entertainer. Macy's through RIF provided books for all the children who attended.
ELCAC Funding Sources