Early childhood education in Delaware receives boost from second federal grant

Head-start programs in Delaware were named the beneficiaries of another generous handout on Thursday.

An announcement made by Governor John Carney, at Wilmington’s Latin American Community Center on April 20, 2017, revealed the new federal grant, the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership. Following a similar grant, awarding $ 7.25 million to the state in January 2015, the funds shall support the expansion of high quality early childhood education to more of the state’s youngest learners.

“A high quality early learning experience is important for all children, and research shows this is especially true for our children from low-income families. High quality early learning yields substantial benefits for these children,” said Governor Carney, noting a 39 percent reduction in special education placements, 30 percent increase in high school graduation, 50 percent increase in college attendance, and 20 percent reduction in the likelihood of serving time in jail. “Thanks to this grant, all children in these centers’ classrooms will benefit from teachers with higher education and classrooms with higher quality materials and structural supports.”

Joined by his Secretary of Education Susan Bunting, Governor Carney then toured LACC’s early childhood center, one of the 203 statewide Delaware Stars’ 5-star programs, which had received money through the earlier appropriation.

According to Governor Carney’s administration, Delaware had already seen a sharp increase in enrollment numbers of low-income children in highly-rated Delaware Stars programs, up 78 percent, between 2011 and 2016. That improvement was attributed to significant investments for strengthening the quality of early learning through advanced training for early childhood educators, expansion of classroom materials and onsite support, and the implementation of systems to detect and address physical and mental health issues.

With continued commitment from the new administration, the expectation is that the additional $7.65 million grant—benefitting children from birth to age 3 years, and their families, being served in highly-rated Delaware Stars programs—will continue the expansion of early learning opportunities for children from low-income families, with a focus on high quality care options in Kent and Sussex counties.