Delaware’s Up to the Challenge

March 8th, 2011

Category: News

Promise remains for the Early Learning Challenge Fund (sometimes referred to as “baby Race to the Top”) in the Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act, introduced last week in the Senate and sponsored by Delaware’s Chris Coons. The act would provide $350 million in competitive grants to states for improving access to learning and development opportunities for low-income children. Sounds like a lot, but it’s a fraction of the original $8-10 billion proposed in 2009.

State applications would be reviewed based on the following criteria, in which Delaware is well-positioned.

  • Improvement in workforce qualifications: The Institute for Excellence at the University of Delaware is a state investment that enhances the qualifications of the workforce, including professional development and grants for programs that are working to improve quality through training staff.
  • Coordination of services to create a seamless system: the Interagency Resource Management Committee brings together the three agencies (Education, Kids’, and Health and Social Services) that administer early childhood services, and works together on a data system through Race to the Top and Head Start funds.
  • Public-private partnerships: Vision 2015, the Stars quality rating and improvement system, and the Early Childhood Council, are all examples of public-private initiatives already making a difference.

As Delaware built the “on-ramp” for Race to the Top, we are building it for the Challenge Fund with a number of additional initiatives, including Kindergarten readiness metric development and coordination of services from early childhood providers and the K-12 system.

Ultimately, we know that Race to the Top cannot succeed without a foundation that prepares young children to enter school ready to learn. Building a state system from a disconnected, public-private amalgamation that is underfunded will certainly be a “challenge” that Delaware can meet.

Madeleine Bayard



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