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Governor Carney Announces Major Child Care Investments and Initiatives

January 24, 2023

DOVER, Del. – Governor Carney on Tuesday announced the administration’s childcare priorities and investments for the coming year. As outlined in last week’s State of the State address [], Delaware will continue to make childcare policies and investments a priority.

The State will be taking the following actions to support, enhance, and expand childcare quality and access this year:

  • Invest over $10 million to increase Purchase of Care rates to 100% of the 75th percentile of the 2021 market rate, to better support programs and children in need. 
  • Pursue a policy change to expand applicant eligibility for Purchase of Care to 200% of the poverty level, to reach more children. 
  • Double funding going to the Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP) to $12.2 million, to serve more 3- and 4-year-olds, and provide programs with more resources. 
  • Allocate funding for House Bill 33, to lower preschool special education student-teacher ratios. 

Additionally, Delaware won an $8 million federal Preschool Development Grant, which will help the state be innovative in strengthening its early childhood infrastructure. For more information on Delaware’s grant, please visit the Delaware Department of Education’s website. []

“We know how critical the early years are to a child’s success,” said Governor Carney. “We also know how important our childcare providers are to our state. Today’s significant investments in Purchase of Care, ECAP, and our youngest learners with special needs are another step forward for child care in our state. I want to thank Lt. Governor Hall-Long and others for continuing to make child care a priority. And thank you to all of our childcare providers for what you do every day.”

File Photo: Governor Carney Joined Brandywine, Christina, and Red Clay to sign the Wilmington Learning Collaborative Agreement Tuesday, Nov. 01, 2022; at the Wilmington Public Library in Wilmington, DE.
The Wilmington Learning Collaborative is a voluntary network of schools in Wilmington across multiple school districts. The Collaborative’s goal is to create consistency for students, empower educators, school leaders, and communities, and improve outcomes for students in the City of Wilmington schools.

“Children are born ready to learn. By investing in our youngest learners we are preparing them for the most critical years of brain development and giving families the opportunity and support they need to thrive,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “As co-chair of the Delaware Early Learning Advisory Committee, I know that these investments directly target the key recommendations that we put forth. The data are clear; critical investments early in a child’s development lead to better academic and life outcomes as they mature. Giving children the foundation they need and empowering the workforce that cares for them strengthens our state’s economy and our future.”

“The State’s investments, policy changes, and Preschool Development Grant, when taken together, signify a historic investment in our youngest learners and their families,” said Secretary Mark Holodick and Secretary Molly Magarik of the Delaware Department of Education and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, respectively. “From increasing Purchase of Care rates and expanding applicant eligibility, to better supporting our youngest learners with special needs, to a doubling of ECAP funding, to the Preschool Development Grant, Delaware is in a position to make comprehensive change for the better.” 

“Every child deserves to have nurturing interactions with caretakers from birth to adulthood, and the first five years of life leave an often-irreversible imprint that can set a child up to realize their fullest potential or leave them struggling to catch up developmentally,” said Senator Laura Sturgeon. “These investments will help us ensure that more Delaware children are given the chance to thrive socially, emotionally, and academically.”

“For our youngest and most vulnerable learners, so much of their future academic success hinges on their experience in their earliest school years. By making these meaningful investments in our early education system, we can ensure our students get the services and interventions they need to set them on the right path,” said Representative Kim Williams. “I commend Governor Carney for recognizing the importance of quality early childhood learning and care and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to make this a reality for Delaware families and students.”

“Investments in early education are necessary to support working families and to promote early learning and literacy. By ensuring our most vulnerable families have access to child care, we move closer to providing an equitable start for all Delaware’s children,” said Senator Kyle Evans Gay. “But early education is also critical infrastructure, and these investments will support our economy and workforce. I applaud the Governor for his continued commitment to local economic success and making Delaware the best state to raise kids.”

“These new state and federal investments create exciting opportunities for Delaware to increase access to more families and improve the state rate for early care and education,” said Delaware Early Childhood Council chair Madeleine Bayard. “The funding will advance recommendations from the Delaware Early Childhood Council, which represents parents, community organizations, early educators, schools, and state agencies. We thank the Governor for his leadership and investments in Delaware’s workforce of today and workforce of tomorrow, and we are excited to work together to better serve new parents, early educators, and young children.” 

“The administration has shown that family child care providers are essential to the Delaware workforce. We currently work 12-14 hour days to provide high-quality care and education to our children,” said Rhondalin Cannon-Tingle, family child care business owner and educator of Rhonda’s Little Angels Daycare & Preschool and Family Child Care Educator of the Year. “We desperately need increased POC rates and this additional Preschool Development Grant funding in our programs to continue to provide high-quality educational learning environments for all of our children.”

“These proposed investments in our state’s early care and education supports will bring Delaware in line with the federal recommendation, will enable child care providers to compete for the workforce, and will ensure our most vulnerable children and families can access care,” said Jamie Schneider, President of the Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children. “During the pandemic, Governor Carney recognized that childcare providers were essential workers, and took swift action to ensure that families had continued access to care. With his proposed budget, Gov. Carney is proving once again that he supports our youngest learners and their families.”