• Preschool Programs

    Exceptional Student Education (ESE) PreK Program

    The Prekindergarten (PreK) Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Program is for children with disabilities and is operated through Sarasota County Schools. The ESE PreK program is available at multiple school sites. Students must be three years old and eligible for ESE to qualify for the PreK program. The school-based program operates during regular school hours, consistent with the school year calendar. 

    PreK Diagnostic Center

    Please contact the PreK Diagnostic Center, if you have any questions or would like to refer a child for a free developmental screening and/or evaluation to determine if your child may qualify for services in Sarasota's ESE PreK Program! For more information on Child Find or to complete a Child Find Referral, please click the following link: Click Here

    Early Learning / PreK Programs

    General Education Early Learning Prekindergarten (PreK) programs are available at the following elementary school locations:

    Alta Vista, Atwater, Brentwood, Cranberry, Emma E. Booker, Gocio, Taylor Ranch, Tuttle, Venice, and Wilkinson

    Students must meet the following criteria to be eligible:

    • Must live in Florida and reside within the districted school site zone.
    • Attain the age of 4 years old on or before September 1st of the current school year.
    • Must meet all registration, enrollment, and immunization requirements.

    Priority consideration will be given to the following:

    1. Children of families participating in the free and reduced food & nutrition program: Click Here
    2. Preschool-aged children experiencing homelessness; and
    3. Children who are in a local institution or attending a community day program for neglected or delinquent children and youth (ESEA section 1115(c)(2)).
    4. Children in foster care, including ensuring the child(ren) remain in his or her preschool of origin unless a determination is made that it is not in the child’s best interest.

    The enrollment period has started and continues until spaces are filled. Please contact your school’s registrar to have your child considered for the program.

    Families will be notified as to acceptance into the program. Afterward, any remaining seats will be filled on a first-come-first-serve basis and students will be added to a wait list once enrollment has been met. 

    All Early Learning/PreK programs follow the Sarasota School Year calendar and students are required to attend full-time to remain in the program. These programs are not Voluntary PreK (VPK). For more information on VPK, please see below and contact the Sarasota Early Learning Coalition (ELC) at 941-556-1600.

    Voluntary PreK (VPK)

    Florida was one of the first states in the country to offer free prekindergarten for all 4-year-olds regardless of family income. Since the program began in 2005-06, more than 2.6 million children have benefited from the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program (VPK). Data collected by the Florida Department of Education shows that children who participate in VPK are much more ready for kindergarten than children who do not participate in VPK.

    Learn more by clicking the following link: Click Here

    Families may learn more about all available prekindergarten programs, availability of financial support and free Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) by contacting the Sarasota Early Learning Coalition (ELC) at 941.954.4830 or Click Here

    Head Start Programs

    Head Start and Early Head Start programs are free, federally funded programs designed to promote school readiness for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers from families that meet income eligibility requirements.

    Early Head Start programs support pregnant women and families with children younger than 3 years. Head Start programs serve children between 3 and 5 years old.

    Learn more by clicking the following link: Click Here

    Families may also wish to learn more about local Head Start programs by contacting Children First at 941.953.3877 or Click Here

    Local Community Child Care/Early Education Ages 0-5

    Early learning programs for children of all ages 0-5, are also offered in community-based preschools. For assistance in finding quality child care for children 0-5 in the community, please reach out to the Sarasota Early Learning Coalition (ELC).

    The Sarasota Early Learning Coalition Family Services Office
    By Telephone, E-mail, and
    Scheduled Appointment:
    Friday, 9-11am
    Phone: 941-556-1600
    Lobby hours:
    9am to 4pm (Mon to Thurs)
    Friday-by appointment as needed
    1750 17th Street, Building L
    Sarasota, Florida 34234
    Located in The Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center