Rep. Angie Nixon’s House Bill 1197, filed on Thursday, proposes an Early Child Care Universal Voucher Program to financially support early education for children from low-income families, including specialized services for students with disabilities.
House Democrat Rep. Angie Nixon filed legislation on Thursday that proposes the establishment of an Early Child Care Universal Voucher Program.
The measure, House Bill 1197, seeks to provide children from financially constrained households with early education options. For general eligibility, the bill allows the use of funds for various educational purposes including tuition and fees for child care services, transportation to approved care facilities, and acquisition of instructional materials.
Additionally, the funds can be used for state and national assessment fees and part-time tutoring services. These tutoring services must be provided by qualified individuals, including those holding a valid Florida educator’s certificate or an equivalent qualification.
“The Early Child Care Universal Voucher Program is established to provide children of families in this state which have limited financial resources with early education options to achieve success in their education,” reads Nixon’s bill.
The bill also makes special provisions for students with disabilities and allows the use of funds for specialized instructional materials, including various digital and assistive technology devices. If adopted, it would cover fees for specialized services by approved providers or hospitals within Florida, encompassing therapies such as applied behavior analysis, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
The legislation also includes support for fees related to specialized educational programs, including after-school programs, and other therapeutic services in alignment with the student’s educational or treatment plans.
Scholarship amounts, under the bill’s purview, would be calculated based on a set amount determined by the Legislature and multiplied by the number of students in the school district. Extra funding would then be provided based on several criteria, such as the poverty level in the student’s county, the cost of living there, the student’s disability status, and the needed staffing levels for their care.
Funds would be distributed in four untaxed quarterly payments throughout the school year and would have a cap of $24,000 on the maximum balance in a student’s account.