FAQ – How do I enroll my child in a district VPK program?

Dec. 15, 2022 – Looking to enroll your child in one of the school district’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) program for the 2023-2024 school year?

Then you need to remember this date: Jan. 1, 2023.

The first of the year marks the official opening of applications for district VPK programs, as well as applications for magnet schools and special transfer option schools. 

When applications open, parents can begin applying for open seats in schools offering the program.

With this process, parents naturally have questions – How do I apply? When is the deadline? Can my child get into any school?

Below, we’re taking the time to answer some of your most important questions about the VPK Lottery. For a more in-depth discussion, play the video below. It is a Parent Academy course that provides an overview of VPK Enrollment.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the VPK lottery? And do I have to enter it for my child to get in?

The VPK Lottery is an online process by which families can apply for seats in Duval County Public Schools’ VPK program. Parents who want to enroll their students in a program must do so through the lottery.

“The district will admit as many eligible students into the VPK program as we can accommodate,” says Sonya McSwain,  Director of Early Learning.

What are the age requirements for VPK?

Children must be 4-years-old on or before September 1, 2023 in order to participate. Children must have been born between September 2, 2018 and September 1, 2019

Can my child attend any school offering VPK?

Because enrollment is based on certain eligibility requirements, students cannot attend any school offering VPK. The VPK program your child is eligible to attend depends on whether his or her home school is a Title 1 school.

  • If your child’s home school is a Title 1 school, they can only attend Title 1 schools.
  • If your child’s school is not Title 1, then your child can only attend non-Title 1 schools.

What about students with disabilities?

Children with disabilities are welcome to attend the district’s VPK programs. Parents are encouraged to contact the district’s VPK ESE office for an IEP review. Staff members will place eligible students into open seats of the program most appropriate by the parent and the district team.

Do you provide transportation?

With the exception of certain students with disabilities, transportation is not provided for VPK students.

Where can I find a VPK application, and when are they available?

VPK lottery applications can ONLY be found online and MUST be completed online. They can be found in FOCUS through your Parent/Guardian account beginning Jan. 1.

If you don’t have a Parent/Guardian account, follow the steps outlined in www.duvalschools.org/parentaccount. Once you’ve submitted your documentation and waited for 24-48 hours, the VPK application will appear in your Parent/Guardian FOCUS account.

When filling out the application, parents can select up to three VPK programs in order of preference that their child is eligible to attend

When can I submit the application?

The window for VPK Lottery applications is from Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023 to Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. To be eligible, parents must apply no later than 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28.

How do I know if the application went through?

According to McSwain, you’ll know your application was successfully submitted when you receive an email confirmation with your choices listed.

Are there preferences in the lottery system?

Yes, there are some lottery preferences.

“The first priority is for children of district employees if their parent or legal guardian works at the requested district school and the student is eligible to attend that site,” says McSwain.

Other lottery preferences include:

  • Students with a sibling already attending the requested school AND their attendance will be concurrent. Siblings are defined as a brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, stepbrother or stepsister living in the same household as the applicant.
  • Military dependents for families transitioning to Jacksonville, and the parent is on active duty. Families must provide the district with a copy of the orders.
  • Children of those employed with the district AND are working in the school that their students wish to attend. That includes district food service, custodial, school police, etc.

When will I hear the results of the VPK lottery? And how will l be notified?

Notification will happen no later than late April. Parents will be notified via email from School Choice advising them to check their Parent/Guardian account.

My child got accepted into a VPK Program. What do I do next?

Parents will have until May 31st to visit the school and complete the enrollment process. If the process isn’t completed, your child’s seat will be released on June 1st.

My child was not accepted to any schools. Will he or she be waitlisted?

Students who aren’t accepted through the regular lottery process will be placed on a waitlist. However, waitlisted students may still be able to get into a program.

As we mentioned earlier, parents of students who have been accepted into a VPK program have until May 31st to accept and complete the process. As parents decline school placements, or fail to complete the process, spots will be released to waitlisted students beginning June 1st.

How does the waitlist process work?

If an eligible student on the waitlist is selected, parents will be notified by email and/or phone call. Parents will have 48 hours to accept or decline the seat. If the school does not hear from the parent, the seat will be offered to the next student on the list.

McSwain advises that parents should not call schools with questions about the waitlist, as it is managed by the VPK office. She also adds that if a student is accepted to any of the choices listed on the application, he or she will NOT be placed on the waitlist for any other schools.

Are there any fees associated with VPK?

VPK is free from 8:30 am to 11:30 am. Services offered from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm are fee-based. Parents who wish for their students to stay for the extended-day schedule will have to pay $300.00 each month.

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