Voluntary Prekindergarten and School Readiness Plus
Voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) and school readiness plus (SRP) are publically funded prekindergarten programs that prepare children for success as they enter kindergarten the following year. The funding allows school districts and charter schools with Minnesota Department of Education-recognized early learning programs to incorporate a VPK/SRP program into their E-12 system as a new grade level.
Currently, both programs serve a total of 7,160 children throughout the states in 128 school districts at 215 sites. All districts participate in an annual application process to renew currently funded seats or request new seats as legislatively determined funds becomes available. The 3,160 VPK seats that were funded in the initial year of fiscal year (FY) 2017 are ongoing. The 4,000 VPK and SRP seats funded in FY18, FY19, FY20, and FY21 will sunset on June 30, 2021 without additional legislative action.
If your district has VPK or SRP funding, or if you are looking for more information, please view the Resources for Funded Programs webpage.
A child who is 4 years old by September 1 in the calendar year in which the school year begins is eligible to participate in VPK or SRP. Each eligible child must complete a health and developmental screening within 90 days of program enrollment and provide documentation of required immunizations.
To participate in VPK, all children who meet the age requirement are eligible to participate free of charge. Due to enrollment caps on program allocations, districts may develop criteria giving enrollment priority to students with risk factors.
- Qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch.
- Is an English language learner.
- Is homeless.
- Has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or interagency intervention plan.
- Is identified through health and development screening with a potential risk factor.
- Is in foster care.
- A child who is 4 years of age as of September 1 and who does not demonstrate any of those risk factors is eligible to participate on a fee-for-service basis.
- A district must adopt a sliding fee schedule for students not demonstrating risk factors, but must waive fee for participants unable to pay.
- School districts and charter schools must use school readiness plus aid for eligible children.
Program RequirementsThe full list of VPK and SRP Statutory Program Requirements are available on the linked document. Each district signs a Statement of Assurances at the time of application that indicates that the district, as well as mixed delivery sites, will administer and provide VPK or SRP program according to all of the requirements and comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws, ordinances, rules and regulations.
As a grade level within the Minnesota’s education system, VPK and SRP programs are required to meet E-12 program expectations and follow the same requirements as other grade levels. These include: Minnesota Automated Reporting Student System (MARSS) reporting, Staff Automated Reporting (STAR), monitoring and compliance, professional development, teacher evaluation, Quality Compensation (Q Comp), and inclusion of children with disabilities.
Application Process for Fiscal Year 2021 FundingThe application period for fiscal year 2021 (school year 2020-21) VPK and SRP funding was be conducted in January 2020 and was open to all school districts and charter schools. Sites funded first in FY17 will receive continued funding for the number of students approved in FY17. Sites that received first-time funding in FY18, FY19, and FY20 will be funded through FY21, but pending legislative changes, not beyond.
The application opened on Friday, January 3, 2020 and closed on January 30, 2020. All districts and charter schools, regardless of previous funding status, needed to apply to be considered for funding in the 2020-21 school year. Districts and charter schools will be notified of their funding status after the spring 2020 legislative session.
These webinar slides provide an overview of FY21 VPK/SRP funding and the application process.
FY21 VPK/SRP Application Q&A
This Q&A document answers frequently asked questions about the VPK/SRP program and the application process. This document will be updated weekly during the application period.
FY21 Prekindergarten Site Worksheet Instructions
These slides describe how to complete the Prekindergarten Site Worksheet for the FY21 VPK/SRP application. Programs will download the Prekindergarten Site Worksheet from the online application.
FY20 VPK and SRP Rankings
This chart demonstrates the FY20 VPK and SRP application rankings and allocations for school district and charter school sites.
Preschool Program Comparison Chart
The preschool program comparison chart demonstrates the differences and similarities between three early childhood education opportunities funded by the Minnesota Department of Education: school readiness, school readiness plus and voluntary pre-kindergarten.
Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program Standards and Head Start Federal Regulations Crosswalk
This crosswalk demonstrates the differences and similarities between voluntary pre-kindergarten standards and Head Start Federal regulations.