(1) Funding for the school readiness program shall be allocated among the early learning coalitions in accordance with this section and the General Appropriations Act.
(2) The office shall administer school readiness program funds and prepare and submit a unified budget request for the school readiness program in accordance with chapter 216.
(3) All instructions to early learning coalitions for administering this section shall emanate from the office in accordance with the policies of the Legislature.
(4) All cost savings and all revenues received through a mandatory sliding fee scale shall be used to increase the number of children served.
(5) All state, federal, and local matching funds provided to an early learning coalition for purposes of this section shall be used for implementation of its approved school readiness program plan, including the hiring of staff to effectively operate the school readiness program.
(6) Costs shall be kept to the minimum necessary for the efficient and effective administration of the school readiness program with the highest priority of expenditure being direct services for eligible children. However, no more than 5 percent of the funds described in subsection (5) may be used for administrative costs and no more than 22 percent of the funds described in subsection (5) may be used in any fiscal year for any combination of administrative costs, quality activities, and nondirect services as follows: (a) Administrative costs as described in 45 C.F.R. s. 98.52, which shall include monitoring providers using the standard methodology adopted under s. 1002.82 to improve compliance with state and federal regulations and law pursuant to the requirements of the statewide provider contract adopted under s. 1002.82(2)(m). (b) Activities to improve the quality of child care as described in 45 C.F.R. s. 98.51, which shall be limited to the following:
1. Developing, establishing, expanding, operating, and coordinating resource and referral programs specifically related to the provision of comprehensive consumer education to parents and the public to promote informed child care choices specified in 45 C.F.R. s. 98.33.
2. Awarding grants and providing financial support to school readiness program providers and their staff to assist them in meeting applicable state requirements for child care performance standards, implementing developmentally appropriate curricula and related classroom resources that support curricula, providing literacy supports, and providing continued professional development and training. Any grants awarded pursuant to this subparagraph shall comply with ss. 215.971 and 287.058.
3. Providing training, technical assistance, and financial support to school readiness program providers, staff, and parents on standards, child screenings, child assessments, child development research and best practices, developmentally appropriate curricula, character development, teacher-child interactions, age-appropriate discipline practices, health and safety, nutrition, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the recognition of communicable diseases, and child abuse detection, prevention, and reporting.
4. Providing, from among the funds provided for the activities described in subparagraphs 1.-3., adequate funding for infants and toddlers as necessary to meet federal requirements related to expenditures for quality activities for infant and toddler care.
5. Improving the monitoring of compliance with, and enforcement of, applicable state and local requirements as described in and limited by 45 C.F.R. s. 98.40.
6. Responding to Warm-Line requests by providers and parents, including providing developmental and health screenings to school readiness program children.
(c) Nondirect services as described in applicable Office of Management and Budget instructions are those services not defined as administrative, direct, or quality services that are required to administer the school readiness program. Such services include, but are not limited to:
1. Assisting families to complete the required application and eligibility documentation.
2. Determining child and family eligibility.
3. Recruiting eligible child care providers.
4. Processing and tracking attendance records.
5. Developing and maintaining a statewide child care information system.
As used in this paragraph, the term “nondirect services” does not include payments to school readiness program providers for direct services provided to children who are eligible under s. 1002.87, administrative costs as described in paragraph (a), or quality activities as described in paragraph (b).
(7) Funds appropriated for the school readiness program may not be expended for the purchase or improvement of land; for the purchase, construction, or permanent improvement of any building or facility; or for the purchase of buses. However, funds may be expended for minor remodeling and upgrading of child care facilities which is necessary for the administration of the program and to ensure that providers meet state and local child care standards, including applicable health and safety requirements.