Delaware Wins Early Learning Challenge Grant!

December 16th, 2011

Category: Early Childhood Education, News

We are pleased to announce that Delaware was selected as a recipient of the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant!  Delaware is one of nine states to be awarded a grant out of 37 total applicants.  The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly announced the winning applications on December 16.  Delaware’s grant of $49.9 million will be implemented during 2012-2015, allowing for a twelve-fold increase in the number of high-need children with access to high quality early childhood education.

With the help of significant participation and support from a range of stakeholders in the early childhood and K-12 sectors, Delaware crafted a high quality application that crosses state agencies and includes many partners.  The Early Learning Challenge is an unprecedented opportunity for Delaware to build on the momentum from Governor Markell’s recent $22 million investment in early childhood and the state’s K-12 Race to the Top win to accelerate programs and initiatives that will lead to profound improvements in early learning.

Delaware’s application focuses on supporting the “whole child” needs of young children and their families, building a professional and effective workforce and strengthening Stars to drive high-quality programming.  It also creates a unique opportunity to execute policies within a birth to age 8 framework that aligns the early childhood and K-12 systems.

Here are several examples of how children, families, educators and programs will benefit from Delaware’s Early Learning Challenge grant:

  • In Delaware, the “readiness gap” will be reduced and more children will enter school prepared for kindergarten due to a higher-quality service providers and strong collaboration between the early childhood and K-12 sectors.
  • In the next three years, the number of programs participating in Stars will increase from 140 to nearly 1,000.
  • Early childhood educators will benefit from enhanced compensation that will help recruit educators to high-need programs, supplement salaries for those who advance professionally, and retain effective educators.
  • The Kids Department will double its annual capacity to provide mental health consultation services to early care and education programs statewide.
  • Families will benefit from improved communication about Stars, the importance of program quality, and how to access services for their young children.

With a strong foundation in place and added support from the Early Learning Challenge, it is the hope that Delaware will become a national model for an outstanding early childhood system.  Congratulations and thank you to DSCYF, DOE, DHSS and all of the stakeholders and partners who contributed to the application or submitted letters of support!

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Madeleine Bayard



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