“I’m Worried.” Six Quotes from Delaware Families that Capture Our Child Care Crisis

Due to rising costs and state investments that don’t keep pace, the child care industry is in peril, and nearly half of local providers are turning families away. Families who rely on the Purchase of Care (POC) subsidy can’t find care because their voucher only reimburses about 50 percent of the costs of child care. Subsequently, about 30 percent fewer families are benefiting from the program now than in previous years–at a time when families critically need child care to be able to engage in the workforce during a global pandemic.

Families are finding more and more that this crisis is untenable. Here are just a few examples Delaware families shared with advocates in their own words:

My child started child care this fall (age one). The staff are working so hard but they don’t have enough people. Hours have been cut. We’ve had days when his room is just closed. These teachers are incredible and we need to support them more, financially, through benefits, reduced education fees, and we should ask them what they need. My child has learned so much in just three months of care, imagine what he will do when he gets to kindergarten!Middletown Mom
As a mom of three with a set of twins currently in pre-K, even with the discount, I pay $1,360 for both of them/month. That’s more than my current mortgage. There is financial struggle at home, but we [endure it] because we want our children to to be ready for kindergarten. I understand why women sacrifice their careers and professional development and stay home with their children. Something needs to change. Something has to be done to make child care more affordable for all families despite their income.Wilmington Mom
As someone who is expecting their first child, I’m worried about how I can continue working and care for my child. Child care and smart policies like paid leave will make it easier to stay in my job.Wilmington Mom
I went back to work when my child was eight and a half weeks old. I am a teacher and was unable to work from home. Many daycares do not take children younger than one year old, so we had no choice but to send him to an in-home caregiver, which was astronomically expensive. With my husband just starting out in his career and me having a teacher’s salary, it was nearly impossible to afford and we went into debt. When our daughter was born a few years later, our son was not yet school-aged. Since we could not afford the cost of daycare for two children, I had no choice but to quit my job and stay home with them until my daughter was able to enter daycare at one year old. This set back my career and put my son behind other children his age, since he no longer had a school environment in which to develop socially and academically.Newark Mom
I am a father, grandfather, and great grandfather. Along with financial support for the health of Delaware residents, I urge you to take action to support early childhood education in our state. The lack of meaningful investment in pre-K and child care is shocking. The state’s long history of underfunding pre-K and child care has resulted in a lack of quality and affordable care.Lewes Grandfather
My youngest child was on a waiting list with no other available openings. It was so hard for both of us. We made it, but I want the next generation of mothers and kids supported. Early learning should be available and affordable!Wilmington Mom

The state must invest more in Purchase of Care to ensure families can find the care they need. While budgets are being decided, families lose out. Tell the members of the Joint Finance Committee that you support increased funding in Purchase of Care.

As Child Care Crisis Rages On, Fewer Children Are Being Served. How?

For years, Delaware families have struggled to find affordable, quality child care. Of the approximately 60,000 children in Delaware from zero to five, only a small portion are being served by state-supported programs. The result? Only about half of Delaware children enter kindergarten with a preschool experience. Research shows that children with a strong preschool start do better in K-12, in areas like third grade reading, graduation rates, and reduction in special education services.

Today, Delaware is in a full-fledged child care crisis. Why? Continued underinvestements from the state.

Delaware child care providers are partially subsidized by the state through an investment called Purchase of Care (POC). While providers’ costs rise from year to year (not to mention during a pandemic), the state continues to invest roughly the same amount. The result of child care costs increasing and fewer child care providers overall is that families can’t find child care. And to complicate matters even further, with fewer providers accepting POC because it doesn’t cover the cost of care, fewer children getting the solid start that they need. It is time for the state to support our teachers, our families and our children.

Click here to learn what advocates are saying about the issue.


. . .

Sources for graphic:

  • State investment:
    • https://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dss/files/2021DECostofCare_PreliminaryReportTables.pdf
    • https://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dss/files/2021DelawareChildCareMarketRateSurvey.pdf
  • Cost increases: From direct provider feedback
  • Fewer served: https://files.ctctusercontent.com/f6736190301/323224bb-e94b-463f-a82c-e7df79051001.pdf?rdr=true

Previewing A Busy Week for Civic Engagement

School board elections are tomorrow, May 11. We shared with you last month why they are so important. The next important step is making a plan to vote tomorrow.

Decide if you’re going to vote before work or during your lunch break. Find out which polling place works for you. Double check before leaving. Click here to find out more from our partners at First State Educate about the candidates running and where to vote. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Elections are one critical way to engage with our local communities, but there are many other ways to become informed citizen of our state, our country, and our world. This week in Delaware, while school board elections are happening, our state general assembly will also be meeting to discuss and vote on bills about topics ranging from this very topic of civic engagement for our students to teacher residencies to paid family medical leave. Now is the time to get involved: Click here learn more about your representatives, when committees meet, and how to participate in hearings.

Today is a great day to get involved.

SAVE THE DATE: School Board Elections are May 11

In the landscape of elections, school boards often find themselves relegated to the background, with less engagement than the more expensive, better-advertised political campaigns. But school board elections are one of the most critical ways for citizens to inform community-level decisions, including the allocation of resources and dollars. Bottom line, Delaware voters: save the date to vote in school board elections on May 11, 2021.

It’s not hyperbole to say that every single vote matters in these contests. Very few eligible voters cast ballots in school board elections. No candidate received more than 492 votes (and most received way less) since 2009.  The average number of votes received by a school board candidate in an election from 2009-2019 was a measly 200. That number represents about three percent of eligible voters in Delaware’s smallest district, Delmar. The school board in Delmar, however, was responsible for administering its share of the approximately $2.27 billion that Delaware spends on public education every year. We can do better.

Turnout might be higher if residents knew the important decisions school boards render in their own backyards. COVID-19 shone a bright light on the very real effects school board elections have on our communities. The pandemic sparked conversations about inequity in funding, achievement gaps, and a crisis in early childhood education. School boards play a role in each of those conversations. Being an informed voter in school board elections means weighing in on:

  • How the district budget is developed and implemented
  • The hiring and evaluation of district superintendents
  • Building standards and upkeep
  • The health of students, teachers, and staff
  • School safety
  • Curriculum design
  • Access to technology
  • The annual school calendar and length of school days
  • Structural inequity


Voting in school board elections holds school board members accountable to their constituents, which can number in the tens of thousands of local teachers, families, and citizens. Click here to learn about the 12 contested races for school board seats that will appear on ballots in May (another eight seat races are uncontested), to find polling locations, and absentee ballot information.

To participate in these elections, you must be at least 18 years old, be a citizen of Delaware and the U.S., and live in the school district where the election is taking place. You don’t need to be a registered voter to participate in a school board election.

With 12 seats up for grabs, voters would be wise to do their research. These elections will inform the direction and quality of public education for our youngest residents. Let’s treat them with the same level of gravity and respect we give to other local and national elections. The consequences are equally, if not more, important.

On May 11, 2021, polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Decisions are made by those who show up.