Early Childhood Programs

Our Mission

The mission of the Early Childhood Programs is to provide children and their families with opportunities to build a foundation for success through quality, comprehensive, community and school based early childhood programs.

Early Head Start - Head Start - VPK

The Early Childhood Programs consist of Early Head Start and Head Start. Our Early Head Start program serves infants to 3 years old, which is housed at the Baker Center in Punta Gorda. Head Start serves three and four-year-old classrooms served at the Baker Center and four-year-old Head Start/Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten classrooms at most elementary schools. The Baker Center also has three Pre K ESE classrooms and one Pre K Inclusion class.

Early Childhood Program Beliefs

  • Comprehensive services are necessary for quality
  • Families are the primary teachers of children
  • Everyone deserves to be respected, supported and empowered in his or her roles
  • Excellence requires community commitment & partnership
  • Advocacy is a shared responsibility

Baker Center

311 East Charlotte Ave
Punta Gorda, FL 33950
Fax: 941-575-5474
Principal: Maureen Watts
Family Services Coordinator: Karen James
Disabilities Coordinator: Cleo Presley
Resource Teacher: Jeanine Lalli

Interesting Facts

  • First Funded in 1965
  • All classrooms are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • Program of Excellence - one of 25 programs in the country
  • All Early Head Start classes are also licensed by the Department of Children & Families
  • We offer the 300-hour summer VPK Program
  • High Scope and Anti-Bias Curriculum used
  • Each family has a Family Service Worker to help them set and reach family goals
  • The ratio in Head Start classrooms is 1-7 for three year olds and 1-9 for four year olds
  • The ratio in Early Head Start (9 weeks-2 year olds) is always 1-4
  • All children receive two thirds of their daily nutritional needs in the Program with breakfast, lunch, and a snack daily
  • Ten percent of our funded enrollment are children with disabilities
  • A Mental Health Consultant and a Fatherhood Consultant provide regular services to our families

Application Information

Applications are now being accepted for the 2013-2014 schoolyear.

All placements are based on the child's age as of September 1, 2013.

  • Children age 4 attend Baker Center and area Elementary Schools
  • All children birth to age 3 attend Baker Center only
Early Head Start and Head Start are both Income-Eligible.
To process and application you must bring:
  • Child's Birth Certificate
  • Proof of total household income (copies of pay stubs, 1040 Tax Form, child support, TANIF/SS benefit statements)
  • Proof of Charlotte County residency (utility bills, lease agreement, vehicle registration)
If child is receiving Speech, Occupational Therapy or Physical Therapy, please bring documentation.

Even Start Family Literacy Program

What is the Even Start Family Literacy Program?

The federally funded Florida Even Start program utilizes a family-centered education model that improves the academic achievement of young children and the literacy skills of their parents in order to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Florida Even Start programs seek out and serve the families that are the most economically disadvantaged and have the lowest levels of adult literacy in the state.

Florida Even Start integrates all of the following activities:

  • Training for parents on how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children.
  • Interactive literacy activities between parents and their children that transfer educational values/concepts into the home.
  • Adult education/ESL that leads to a high school diploma/GED, better jobs and to economic self-sufficiency.
  • Age-appropriate early childhood and preschool education to prepare children for school success and life long learning.
Florida's Even Start Family Literacy funds are currently being used to provide year-round instructional activities that utilize scientifically-based reading research and include enrichment services during the summer months.

How do Families Participate in the Even Start Family Literacy Program?

To be eligible, a family must be at or near the Federal Poverty Level, have at least one parent who either needs a GED/high school diploma or has not yet mastered English, and have at least one child under the age of 8.

For More Information Contact

Debi Bell

Family Reading Experience

When parents checkout three books for their child they receive a "keeper" book for each child as a reward. What a great way to have wonderful reading experiences at home and to build a home library! Centers will be open through the end of April. Come and join in on the fun!

Title I Family Reading Experience Schedule (Book Check-Out Program)

Table Scrolls if Necessary.

School Staff Location Days Open Start Time Stop Time
The Academy
Chris Stephenson
Ext. 314
Rm. A-119
Monday - Thursday
9:30 AM
1:00 PM
11:30 AM
3:00 PM
Deep Creek Elementary School
Denise Bourne
Ext. 268
Rm. C-113 Wednesday 7:45 AM 8:35 AM
East Elementary School
Karen Miller
Ext. 122
Rm. 122 Wednesday &
7:30 AM
2:30 PM
9:00 AM
3:15 PM
Kingsway Elementary School
Teresa Knight
Ext. 255
Media Center Wednesday 7:45 AM 8:45 AM
Liberty Elementary School
Jennifer McGill
Ext. 290
Media Center Tuesday &
7:30 AM 8:30 AM
Murdock Middle School
Britteney Kindred
Ext. 211
Rm. A-101 Thursday
9:00 AM
3:00 PM
10:00 AM
4:30 PM
Meadow Park Elementary School
Gina Pennybacker
Ext. 2170
Rm. 125-I
2:30 PM
7:30 AM
3:30 PM
8:30 AM
Myakka River Elementary School
Angie Kopp
Ext. 217 - Office
219 - Family Center
Rm. H-125 Tuesday &
7:45 AM 8:30 AM
Neil Armstrong Elementary School
Renee Murno
Ext. 303
Rm. 125-H Tuesday &
7:00 AM
2:30 PM
9:00 AM
3:30 PM
Port Charlotte Middle School
Diane LaNovara
Ext. 250
Rm. N-149-B Thursday
8:00 AM
3:00 PM
9:30 AM
4:30 PM
Peace River Elementary School
Chris Marcoguiseppe
Ext. 222
Rm. 125-H
Monday - Friday
8:00 AM
2:30 PM
8:30 AM
3:30 PM
Salie Jones Elementary School
Monica Kiburz
Ext. 2025
Rm. 127-128
Tuesday & Thursday
7:45 AM
2:30 PM
8:30 AM
3:30 PM
Vineland Elementary School
Nan Fetzer
Ext. 220
Rm. A-149 Wednesday 7:55 AM 8:55 AM

Homeless Education Project

The goal of the Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) Homeless Education Project is to help students in transition achieve academic success.

Quick Stats - Students serviced through the 2016-2017 school year:

Homeless Student
  • 458 students were certified in the program (approximately 270 families)
  • 44 students from the Englewood / El Jobean area
  • 277 students from the Port Charlotte / Murdock area
  • 137 students from the Punta Gorda / Burnt Store / Deep Creek area
  • 67 students are unaccompanied youth
5 Year Trend

Who is a homeless student?

Homeless students are those who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This includes:

  • Students living in domestic violence shelters, teen parent shelters or runaway shelters
  • Students on the street, abandoned buildings or vehicles
  • Students living in public spaces: woods, parks or tents
  • Students living in FEMA trailers, campgrounds or substandard housing due to lack of alternative accommodations
  • Students living in low rent hotels/motels due to lack of alternative accommodations
  • Students sharing the house, mobile home or apartment of other persons due to lack of alternative accommodations, dwelling eviction or hardship (Doubled-Up)
  • Students not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian, living in unstable or inadequate housing accommodations (Unaccompanied Youth)
  • Students awaiting foster care placement
  • Students abandoned in hospitals
  • Migratory students who qualify as homeless because they are living in the circumstances described above.