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 state 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 become 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.

Student Eligibility

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.

To participate in SRP free of charge, a child must meet the age requirement and also meet one or more of the following 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.
Please note for SRP programs:
  • 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 Requirements

The 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 2022 Funding

The application period for fiscal year (FY) 2022 (school year 2021-22) VPK and SRP funding will be conducted in January 2021 and is open to all school districts and charter schools. VPK sites funded for the first time in FY17 will receive continued funding for their original number of seats. VPK/SRP seats initially funded in FY18, FY19, FY20 and FY21 are currently scheduled to sunset at the end of the 2020-21 school year unless action is taken by the legislature. Preschool program funding decisions will be made during the 2021 legislative session. 

The application opens on Tuesday, January 5, 2021, and closes on Monday, February 1, 2021. All districts and charter schools, regardless of previous funding status, need to apply to be considered for funding in the 2021-22 school year. Districts and charter schools will be notified of their funding status after the spring 2021 legislative session.

Please see the “Application Resources” section below for guidance on the FY22 application process. 

 

Application Resources

Program Resources