In Delaware, one in three low-income kids are enrolled in a publically funded early education program. This includes approximately 302 children under the age of three that are enrolled in Early Head Start and 7 percent of all four-year-olds that have access to pre-K in the state. Additionally, the average annual cost of center-based infant care in the state is $8,928. Governor Jack Markell has been a champion for early education in his state and nationwide, as Delaware public schools have been a model for public schools around the country. Momentum in the state has largely been focused on expanding educational opportunities, including early education, for the children most at-risk.
- What the Governor is saying: In his State of the State address this year, Gov. Jack Markell said, “We all agree that a quality education is essential for anyone seeking to unleash his or her potential – and this begins at a very early age. Teachers tell us that the number one barrier to academic success is when kids do not come to school ready to learn.” The governor has also stated his support for expanding the national Nurse Family Partnership program to support low-income mothers as they care for their newborns.
- Support from the business community: In January 2014, 20 prominent business leaders in Delaware joined together as champions of early childhood education to launch the Delaware Commission on Early Education and the Economy. The goal of the Commission is to serve as the state’s leading business voice for advancing quality early learning programs. Even more, they aim to ensure that the 25,000 Delaware children from low-income families gain access to quality pre-K programs soon. Additionally, the co-chair of the Commission has encouraged the public to voice their support for investing in early childhood to representatives.
- Advancing quality in early childhood education: In February 2014, Gov. Markell announced enhancements to Delaware’s early childhood programs and their quality ratings. Starting July 1, early childhood programs that receive top quality ratings will receive higher reimbursement rates from the state for accepting kids from low-income families. The state will also provide more support to child care providers that need to raise their quality ratings. The governor believes that this boost in quality and accountability will produce “better educated, healthier, and more responsible adults.”