Hurricane Evacuees Eligible for Florida's Pre-K Program

By: Donna Davis
By: Donna Davis

Florida is opening its doors to Katrina's youngest victims, helping parents get their children in the state's new pre-k program. State officials have waived the residency and documentation requirements.

Desiree Necaise escaped Katrina's wrath in Kiln, Mississippi. Now settling into Florida, she says her two year old Gracie is adjusting well, but her older daughter Madeline doesn't understand.

"She wants to go home and get in her bed and watch her TV. It makes me want to cry."

Desiree hopes to get Madeline enrolled in Florida's pre-k program as soon as possible.

"I've thought about it before this. I would like it. I think she needs it."

Florida is making it easier for displaced families to get their children involved in pre-k. Parents don't have to provide shot records and they can go to any school district they choose.

Florida has some 70,000 kids already in its pre-k classes and openings for another 32,000. The program is open to four-year-olds who live in Florida or were displaced by Katrina.

Carol Bishop is the principal at Canopy Oaks Elementary in Tallahassee where some Hurricane Katrina evacuees have already enrolled.

"As soon as we can put some consistency and normalcy into their lives, that is what's best for them."

Parents like Desiree may find the opportunity to enroll their kids in pre-k as one small consolation during such a difficult time.

Parents can call a toll free number to get information on how to register their children for pre-k. That number is 1-866-FL-READY or 1-866-357-3239.


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