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Professional Learning

Specialized knowledge of how young children develop and learn is critical for those who work in early care and education (ECE). Children should be provided access to learning experiences that enhance their educational needs and development. Florida's ECE professional development system provides training opportunities to early care providers to ensure children receive developmentally appropriate educational opportunities. The ECE professional development system is a framework with elements that define career pathways tied to credentials, certifications and qualifications to meet the needs of individual adult learners in the field.

The Division of Early Learning’s (DEL) network of lead trainers, representing each of the 30 early learning coalitions and school districts, delivers professional development regionally. DEL chooses lead trainers for their education, experience in early education, and training and recognition as an outcomes-driven training facilitator.

If you are interested in participating in early learning professional learning courses, you can do so through the Florida Early Childhood Professional Development Registry. The registry allows early learning professionals to track training they have completed and record certificates they receive. The system assists practitioners to assess current qualifications, identify education resources and support and plan their career pathways.

DEL, in collaboration with the DCF, offers a variety of both online training opportunities (PDF) and instructor-led training opportunities (PDF).

VPK Directors and Instructors may contact your VPK Regional Facilitator (PDF) for virtual and in-person instructor-led trainings available in your area.

SR Providers may contact your SR Program Specialist (PDF) for any SR questions and needed information.

Program and Child Assessment Reflection

Have you had an opportunity to reflect on results from the School Readiness and VPK program assessment (CLASS®) or the VPK child assessment (FAST)? The Division of Early Learning (DEL) now offers opportunities for educators to gather and reflect, ask questions, discuss successes and share concerns in a virtual reflection platform. Educators may register for any of the following Program Assessment Reflection (PAR) and Child Assessment Reflection (CAR) offerings listed in the January and February CAR and PAR Reflection Opportunities Calendar (PDF). Registration is required.

For more information about professional development, email del.questions@del.fldoe.org.

Career Pathway

As an early learning professional, you can advance your career through formal education provided by colleges and universities and through informal educational opportunities offered by other training organizations. A career pathway (PDF) builds on core knowledge and provides direction for practitioners who want to move from entry level into professional careers in early childhood learning. Competencies for practitioners in seven subject knowledge areas are organized from basic- to high-level skills across ECE levels. Each ECE level is a prerequisite to the next and presumes a practitioner has greater knowledge and skill than in the one preceding. A career pathway incorporates continuing professional learning requirements, providing a road map of career opportunities within early care and education.

Core Knowledge and Competencies

Core Knowledge is the foundation of professional learning. It identifies what a practitioner should know and be able to do. Research-based standards are grouped into specific content areas outlining knowledge and skill competencies. There is specific training for each set of competencies, including Afterschool Educators competencies and standards. Core Knowledge aligns the Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards and Professional Competencies, which describe what children should know and be able to do at the end of each developmental stage.

School Readiness (SR) Credentials and Qualifications

Different early childhood sectors have regulations and performance standards to identify qualifications required for professionals in the field. There are licensing requirements for child care and after-school programs, certification and credential requirements for public and private schools, performance standards for Early Head Start and Head Start, and quality improvement program requirements. While some overlap, there are often specific differences.

School Readiness providers must meet group size requirements which include an active credential component. To learn more about early learning educator requirements, including the Staff and Director Credentials, visit the DCF Child Care Training and Credentialing Requirements website. If you have questions, you may contact DCF at the Child Care Training Information Center at 1-888-352-2842.

VPK Director Credential Requirements

All VPK Directors must complete the Florida Director Credential program and five additional training courses in accordance with Rule 6M-8.610, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.). This training must be completed for a VPK program to be eligible for establishing an active contract. For questions pertaining to VPK Director training requirements, please complete the VPK Training Requirements and Questions Form.

VPK Lead Instructor Requirements

Individuals seeking employment as a VPK instructor for a VPK program must have the following training credentials. The employer (VPK provider or prospective provider) must provide required documentation to the local early learning coalition in accordance with Rule 6M-8.300, F.A.C.

All VPK lead instructors must complete three 5-hour (15 hours total) emergent literacy courses and the Implementing the Florida Standards in Preschool Classrooms: 3 Years Old to Kindergarten standards training course (online VFSP online or SPC3TK instructor-led). For questions pertaining to VPK instructors training requirements, please complete the VPK Training Requirements and Questions Form.

If you have questions related to the Emergent Literacy or Florida Standards Course requirements email VPKQuestions@del.fldoe.org.

Program Assessment Training

A voluntary statewide capacity-building Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ (CLASS™) Initiative offers CLASS™ trainings to early learning coalition staff, Head Start/Early Head Start staff, DEL staff, training partners and early education provider association representatives. CLASS is an observation-based program assessment instrument that measures teacher-child interactions in three broad areas—emotional support, classroom organization and instructional support. It describes multiple teaching components linked to student achievement and social development. More than 750 participants statewide have received this training, which includes these components—Pre-K Observer Training, Pre-K Observer Train-the-Trainer, Making the Most of Classroom Interactions Train-the-Trainer, Toddler Observer Training and Toddler Observer Train-the-Trainer. All 30 early learning coalitions participated in the training and can now offer these courses to local providers.

For CLASS™ training opportunities, contact your local early learning coalition.

School Readiness and VPK Programs Emergent and Elementary Literacy Micro-Credential and Stipend

In the 2023-24 school year, the Division of Early Learning in partnership with the University of Florida Lastinger Center is offering extended learning opportunities for instructional and child care personnel who work in a public or private early learning program and are interested in pursuing the Emergent or Elementary Literacy Micro-Credential. The literacy micro-credentials provide high-quality, evidence-based online course content to build their literacy knowledge and skills to effectively support literacy learning for students, birth through grade 5. Each micro-credential consists of three 20-hour (60 hours total) components. Component 1 of the Emergent Literacy Micro-Credential includes the Preschool Language Development and the Building Blocks of Preschool Literacy courses, both of which meet the emergent literacy course requirement (Rule 6M-8.615). Additionally, the Elementary Literacy Micro-Credential satisfies Competency 1 of the Florida Reading Endorsement. Micro-credential completers may receive a completion stipend of up to $2,000 if they meet stipend eligibility criteria. No partial stipends will be issued, and employment verification is required.

Financial Incentives

Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) Scholarship Program

T.E.A.C.H. is an early childhood scholarship program that strengthens the child care workforce by providing direct support to early childhood caregivers and center directors so they can work toward earning degrees or credentials. Scholarships can apply toward a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or equivalency, an A.S. degree in Child Development and Education, a director’s credential, and now, a bachelor's degree in early childhood education.

T.E.A.C.H. links compensation and training and involves sharing expenses among the caregiver receiving the scholarship, the sponsoring child care center or family child care home, and the T.E.A.C.H. program. The Division of Early Learning provides funding for the program and the Children’s Forum is the authorized agent for T.E.A.C.H. in Florida. For more information about T.E.A.C.H., call 1-877-FL TEACH (358-3224) toll-free or visit teach-fl.org/.

Additional Information

Professional Learning Community: Emergent Literacy

The goal of emergent literacy instruction is to teach the building blocks that will, in later grades, provide children the foundation needed to become proficient readers, writers, and communicators. Emergent literacy building blocks, or skills, include print knowledge, phonological awareness, vocabulary and oral language. Preschoolers who learn these skills are less likely to develop future reading problems and more likely to read with ease, understand what they read, and succeed in school. The Florida VPK Regional Facilitator in your region is trained to deliver this training to ELC staff, program directors/administrators and school district staff who will then provide training to educators at early childhood programs. For additional information, contact your VPK Regional Facilitator (PDF).