Governor Announces Next Stage of Early Education Efforts
Governor Jack Markell today announced the start of the next phase of Delaware’s plan to improve the quality of early childhood education. Starting on October 1st, early care and education providers statewide will receive an increased reimbursement rate for caring for children eligible for Delaware’s Purchase of Care system.
“Education can’t begin the first day a child shows up for kindergarten,” said Markell. “Research shows that early education at a early care and education center provides the building blocks for a child’s success. Improving the quality of early education is fundamental for the future of each child and for our state.”
In June, the Legislature approved the Governor’s proposal to invest an additional $22 million to help build stronger staff and encourage stronger services at early childhood education centers.
Because reimbursement rates varied across the state for the Purchase of Care system, which reimburses providers for caring for low-income children, the plan allocated $12 million to increase rates to 65% of the market rate, plus an additional $0.50 per child per day. Providers will receive this new rate when they are reimbursed for October care in November.
The $10 million expansion of the Delaware Stars for Early Success quality rating program, which provides technical and financial assistance to enable centers to achieve quality standards, will also kick off in October.
“Over the past few months, we’ve met with programs involved in Stars and programs that want to get involved,” said Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn. “Early care and education providers want to make sure their kids get the best opportunities. The Stars program provides them with the tools to make that happen.”
Providers that are currently enrolled in the program and have achieved ratings of 3, 4, or 5 Stars will be eligible for higher reimbursement rates of 80%, 90%, or 100% of the market rate.
Providers that are not yet enrolled may submit applications beginning on Wednesday, October 5th. Providers will be prioritized for participation based on factors such as the percentage of the provider’s childcare slots devoted to Purchase of Care, geographic location, and the ages of children served. More details on the application process will be shared with providers and online next week.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to apply for the program,” said Dayna Moore, owner of Lessons Learned Educational Enrichment Center in Wilmington. “We work hard to provide high-quality care, and this funding could make a big difference in staff retention, hiring, and improving our skills.”
Technical support will be provided by the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood at the University of Delaware. Staring in January 2012, they will be implementing a more flexible ratings system, more hands-on technical assistance, and clearer guidelines for grants.
“The feedback we’ve received so far has been very positive,” said Vivian Rapposelli, Secretary of the State Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (also known as the “Kids Department”). “Our team is working closely with the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Social Services, a wide range of community stakeholders, and providers to make sure our kids are given the best possible start towards achieving their dreams.”
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