THIS PROGRAM CLOSED in 2021. Please contact the Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Gateway for information on lowering the cost of child care.

 The Division of Early Learning along with local early learning coalitions throughout the state are prioritizing child care for first responders and health care workers. As you are on the front lines of helping to fight the pandemic, allow the Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Gateway to assist you with your child care costs. Income is not a part of the eligibility process for the program through July 31 2021, and you may be eligible for an additional 12 months of child care assistance based on your family’s gross income.

In order to qualify, you must:

  • Be a resident of Suwannee, Hamilton, Union, Lafayette, or Columbia counties.
  • Have a child younger than 13 years old.
  • Be employed with a first-responder organization or essential medical organization.

To apply for emergency child care scholarship

  1. Obtain Child Care Application and Authorization (CCAA) from your Human Resources Department or Click here.
  2. Complete Section A (Family Information) and sign the referral. Then have your employer complete Section B (Eligibility) and sign the referral. Both sections must be completed and signed before moving on to the next step.
  3. Apply for child care services by going to the Florida Division of Early Learning Family Portal, click here.
  4. As a new user, select “Click Here” to register for an account.
  5. Complete the application (When answering the prequalifying questions, select “Yes” when asked if you have a form titled: Child Care Application and Authorization).
  6. Scan in your signed CCAA form.
  7. ELC staff will review your application upon submission. If eligible, your case will be processed within three business days.
  8. To expedite the process, please be sure that you have a child care provider selected. Confirm that provider has a valid School Readiness contract if enrollment is under these services. To enroll your child in the First Responder program the provider you select must have a valid School Readiness contract with the local Early Learning Coalition of your county. Child care providers that hold only a Voluntary Pre-kindergarten (VPK) contract with the Coalition are not eligible to receive payment under this initiative. If you need help with selecting a provider, our staff will be able to provide you with free Child Care Resource & Referral (CCRR) services and a customized list of local child care options.



  • How to complete and submit the child care application and authorization form, click here.
  • Child Care Application and Authorization Form, First Responder and Essential Health Care Personnel (Declaration of Emergency Response), Click here.
  • FAQs for First Responder Program: Families,Click here.
  • Florida Essential Services List for public health, law enforcement, public safety, and other first responders, Click here.