It was a so-so legislative season for early education in Florida.
A bill that would have raised health and safety standards for voluntary pre-kindergarten and school-readiness programs failed for the second year in a row.
State leaders added no new money to voluntary pre-K, which serves 170,000 4-year-olds — while per-student spending remains well below the national average.
The school readiness programs, which provide subsidized child care to 209,000 kids from low-income families, got a boost of $5 million in nonrecurring funds to reduce a waiting list of roughly 62,000. The average cost per child per year ranges from $4,500 to $5,500.
“We’re obviously still struggling,” said former Republican state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, executive director of the Florida Association for Child Care Management, an industry group. “We have a lot of work to do in terms of educating the public at large to get them to look at early learning with the same passion and commitment they do K-12.”