Policy Strategies & Innovations Link copied!

Innovation Name Innovation Type Innovation Subtype Features at a Glance Strategy Summary
Early Childhood Educator INCENTIVE$ Workforce Bonuses and Supplemental Pay Professional Learning

$450 to $5,000 per educator per year, with an average supplement of $2,472

Early Childhood Educator INCENTIVE$ Florida provides supplemental pay to early childhood educators based on their education level and commitment to their early education program. INCENTIVE$ is designed to retain early childhood educators and support their professional development; in turn, this creates a more stable workforce with the skills needed to support young children's healthy learning and development. Bonuses range from $450 to $5,000 per educator per year, with an average payment of $2,472. Amounts increase as educators obtain more formal education, and educators must remain in their early education program for at least six months to qualify for an award. According to the INCENTIVE$ program, "data show that INCENTIVE$ participants who continuously increase their education levels are more likely to remain with their employer. Data also show the turnover rate among participants is only 10% annually, compared to the national average of 30-40% each year."

This program is part of the national Child Care WAGE$ project and is currently available in select counties across the state.

Learn More: Florida Early Childhood Educator INCENTIVE$


Children's Forum. (n.d.). Early Childhood Educator INCENTIVE$.

Children's Forum. (2022). Early Learning & Afterschool Career Pathways.

Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program (VPK) Expansion Universal Pre-K Policy (4-Year-Olds) More Than 60% of Children Served (4-Year-Olds)

Percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled (as of 2022): 68%
Percentage of 3-year-olds enrolled (as of 2021): 0%
Hours of operation: Locally determined

In 2005, Florida launched a state-funded program, the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK), which offers funded preschool access for all 4-year-olds in the state. As of 2022, the program served 68% of the state’s 4-year-olds.

Learn More: Florida Division of Early Learning


Florida Division of Early Learning. (n.d.). Types of VPK ProgramsNational Institute for Early Education Research. (2021). Florida

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Demographics Link copied!

State population

22,244,823 Source U.S. Census, 2022

Rural %

8.5% Source U.S. Census, 2020

Urban %

91.5% Source U.S. Census, 2020

Number of children age 0-4

1,103,794 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Poverty levels – children 0-8 below 200% poverty

42% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Median family income among households with children

$71,300.00 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Unemployment rate

2.5% Source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2022

Unemployment rate of parents

4% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force

68% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Children living in households with a high housing cost burden

36% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Child population by race and ethnicity Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Race and Ethnicity

  • American Indian and Alaska Native (.5%)
  • Asian (3%)
  • Black or African American (20%)
  • Hispanic or Latino (32%)
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (.5%)
  • Two or More Races (4%)
  • White, not Hispanic or Latino (42%)

Political Landscape Link copied!

Source: Ballotpedia 2023

Early Childhood Education Programs Link copied!

Public pre-K program name

Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program (VPK) Source: NIEER 2023

Universal or targeted pre-K policy

Universal Pre-K Policy (4-Year-Olds) Source: NIEER 2023

Percent of 3-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023


  • 3-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (0%)
  • 3-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (7%)
  • Other/none (87%)
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Percent of 4-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023


  • 4-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (68%)
  • 4-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (7%)
  • Other/none (25%)
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Workforce Link copied!

2017–2019 Median Hourly Wages Source CSCCE 2018, 2020


  • Child care workers
  • Preschool teachers
  • Preschool or child care center directors
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Funding Sources Link copied!

Federal and State Early Childhood Education Funding (in millions) Source First Five Years Fund, 2022

Funding source

  • Head Start and Early Head Start Funding ($416.0)
  • CCDBG & Mandatory Funds ($495.7)
  • CCDBG State Match ($44.7)
  • CCDBG COVID Relief Allocations – CARES, CRRSE, ARPA (CCDF & Stabilization) ($3300.0)
  • State-Funded Pre-K ($302.5)
  • MIECHV ($9.2)
  • IDEA Part C ($38.1)
  • IDEA Part B, Sec 619 ($29.4)
  • TANF Early Learning and Care Expenditures ($341.2)
  • Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five ($17.4)

Funding acronyms: CCDBG: Child Care and Development Block Grant; CARES Act: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act; CRRSE Act: Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations; ARPA: American Rescue Plan Act; CCDF: Child Care and Development Fund; MIECHV: Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program; IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; TANF: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

The COVID Funding Cliff

All federal COVID relief allocations, including funding authorized by the CARES, CRRSE, and ARPA bills, must be fully spent by September 2024. An analysis from the Century Foundation shows this loss of funds could cause more than 3 million children to lose access to child care nationwide – including more than 212,000 children in Florida.