Governor Carney Signs Bill Creating Tuition Waiver Program for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

New program waives tuition, room and board at Delaware public universities and colleges for eligible students

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Thursday signed into law House Bill 123, legislation sponsored by Representative Krista Griffith and Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth Lockman that creates the Delaware Fostering Independence Through Education Tuition Waiver Program to support students in foster care as they work toward a higher education degree. This new program requires Delaware State University, Delaware Tech Community College and the University of Delaware to waive all tuition and fees, including room and board, for any youth who has aged out or spent at least one year in foster care as a teenager.

“Making sure all of Delaware’s students have an opportunity to succeed has been our top priority,” said Governor Carney. “This legislation will ensure some of our most vulnerable children are supported when pursuing higher education. Thank you to Representatives Griffith and Longhurst, Senators Lockman and Poore, the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, and other advocates who carried this important legislation over the finish line. Our children will be better off because of it.”

Under this legislation, eligible students must apply for any and all financial aid before being granted the tuition waiver for any leftover tuition and fees. Students may use the tuition waiver until they turn 27.

“Investing in our students’ dreams has a ripple effect across Delaware. With this tuition waiver program, our youth in care have a chance to leap over obstacles as they enter adulthood. I’m thankful for the support of our Governor and the Delaware Legislature to make this program a reality,” said Josette Manning, Cabinet Secretary of the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families (DSCYF). “Our youth who experience foster care are incredibly resilient, despite facing a disproportionate number of challenges in their young lives, and we can do our part as a state to support them on their journey.”

Prior to this legislation being signed, youth experiencing foster care only had access to the federal Chafee Educational and Training Voucher program and the Ivyane D.F. Davis Memorial Scholarship Fund, a state-funded scholarship program. With the tuition waiver program in place, youth who have experienced foster care can pursue their dreams without worrying about how to pay for college or where to find housing.

“We know that young people who have been through the foster care system as teens and have aged out experience worse outcomes overall than their peers in terms of educational attainment, full-time employment, stable housing and financial independence,” said Rep. Krista Griffith, lead House sponsor of HB 123. “We can do more to make sure our students in foster care thrive as adults by removing the financial barrier to higher education. This will encourage youth in foster care to go out and earn a college degree, giving them tools they need to identify and obtain a path forward to achieving their dreams.”

“Young people who have worked hard to get to college after spending significant time in Delaware’s foster care system deserve every ounce of our support,” said Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman. “I want to thank Rep. Krista Griffith and Governor John Carney for recognizing that fact and taking action today to remove barriers that prevent some of our most vulnerable young people from achieving their goals, realizing their potential, and embarking on an education that will lead them to a brighter future.”

According to DSCYF, it is estimated that about 15-20 incoming freshmen will likely take advantage of tuition waivers under House Bill 123 each year. Governor Carney supported this legislation in his 2020 State of the State Address.

“This legislation is so important,” said Mayda Berrios, student at Delaware State University. “Although I’m graduating this year, I am so happy that some many young people will be able to benefit from this. Thanks to the members of the General Assembly who pushed this beyond the Youth Advisory Council and made this into a bill today so that the future generation of foster youth who are experiencing hardships can now experience higher education.”  

Additional information on the tuition waiver program can be found here.

Video from today’s bill signing can be found here.

Photos from today’s bill signing can be found here.

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Governor Carney, DHSS Formalize Vaccine or Testing Requirement for Educators

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) have formally issued an emergency regulation requiring educators, school staff, volunteers, and contractors working in Delaware schools to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing beginning November 1. The requirement, which was first announced last month, applies to public and private K-12 schools.

Click here to read the emergency DHSS regulation.

“There’s no better way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and keep all Delaware children in their classrooms, than to get vaccinated,” said Governor Carney. “Our top priority has been to get all Delaware students back in school this fall. This requirement will help keep them there and prevent regular disruptions to their learning. These vaccines are safe and extremely protective against COVID-19 infection and serious illness. I encourage all Delawareans to get your shot and help us finally put an end to this pandemic.”

Visit de.gov/getmyvaccine to find vaccination provider locations.

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Governor Carney Issues Statement on Senate Confirmations

DOVER, Del.Governor John Carney issued the following statement on the Delaware Senate voting to confirm judicial nominations on Wednesday:

“I want to thank members of the Delaware Senate for their careful consideration of our nominees,” said Governor Carney. “I’m confident that each has the good judgment and experience necessary to serve on Delaware’s world-class judiciary with distinction. Thank you to all the nominees for their willingness to serve.”

The following nominations were confirmed on Wednesday:

Martin O’Connor was confirmed to serve as a Superior Court Commissioner in New Castle County. O’Connor has served as a Deputy Attorney General since 1998. During his time at the Delaware Department of Justice (DOJ), O’Connor has served as a Criminal Division prosecutor, as well as serving in the Criminal Division Appellate Unit, Medicaid Fraud Unit, and in the Civil Division.

Theresa Hayes was confirmed to serve as a Judge on the Family Court in Sussex County. Hayes has been a Family Court practitioner since 1996. She practices at the Office of Edward C. Gill P.A. in Georgetown, where she represents clients on all aspects of Family law. Previously, she served as a law clerk from 1994-1996 to the Honorable Battle R. Robinson and the Honorable Kenneth M. Millman on the Family Court in Sussex County.

Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster was reappointed to serve as a Vice Chancellor on the Delaware Court of Chancery, where he has served since 2009. Previously, Vice Chancellor Laster was a founding partner of the corporate law firm Abrams & Laster LLP, and a director in the Corporate Department at Richards, Layton & Finger.

Earl MacFarlane was confirmed as Justice of the Peace for New Castle County.

Kristine Kellenbenz was confirmed as Justice of the Peace for Sussex County.

Taylor Oliphant was confirmed as Alderman of the Town of Laurel.

The Hon. Theodore Becker was confirmed to the Delaware River and Bay Authority.

Earl Jeter was confirmed to the Lottery Commission.

William Tobin was confirmed to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

Monica Alvarez and Kim Warfield, Ph.D. were confirmed to the State Board of Elections.

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Governor Carney Announces Workforce Support for Hospitals, Long-Term Care, and 24/7 State Facilities

More than $75M from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) can fund recruitment and retention payments for workers

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Wednesday announced more than $75 million in financial support for Delaware hospitals, long-term care facilities, and State of Delaware-operated 24/7 facilities. Funding can be used to make recruitment and retention payments to Delawareans working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in facilities that are facing significant staffing shortages.

The new support, which will help address potential staffing shortages in front line industries, is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ARPA was championed in Congress by members of Delaware’s congressional delegation — Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester — and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.

Visit de.gov/rescueplan to learn more about how the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) is helping in Delaware.

“This new funding from the American Rescue Plan will help Delaware hospitals, long-term care facilities and State of Delaware facilities keep workers who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis – and recruit qualified new workers into these critical roles,” said Governor Carney. “That’s exactly how this federal funding was meant to be used, and it will help these industries stabilize their workforces so we can continue fighting the COVID-19 pandemic at full strength. Most importantly, I want to thank our health care workers, emergency response personnel, and all those Delawareans who have gotten us through a difficult 19 months. Let’s make sure we’re all doing our part. Getting vaccinated is the best thing you can do to finally put an end to this pandemic. Find a vaccination provider near you by visiting de.gov/getmyvaccine.”

“As a nurse, I know how difficult it has been on our frontline health care workers as we have battled the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to thank all of our health care workers for their tireless effort and dedication to keep our families and communities healthy and safe every day,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “This $75 million investment from the ARPA funding will support the workforce of our hospitals and long-term care facilities that continue to take care of Delawareans. Thank you to the federal Delegation for this additional recruitment and retention tool to ensure we have a robust and qualified healthcare workforce in Delaware.”

“Delaware’s frontline health care workers have been critical in keeping Delawareans safe and healthy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sens. Carper, Coons and Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “We applaud Governor Carney for allotting $75 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, a bill your federal delegation voted to pass in March of this year, to fund hospitals, long-term care facilities, and state operated 24/7 facilities. This funding can be used for the recruitment and retention of health care staff throughout the state, a critical step to ensure that Delaware’s health care facilities have the staff necessary to continue their essential work.”

“We are grateful that the Governor is recognizing the tremendous burden COVID-19 response continues to visit upon our hospitals and health care facilities through provision of these funds,” said Wayne Smith, President & CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association. “Having the needed amount of front line workers to care for all who access our facilities is not optional. This announcement is a great help and very much appreciated.”

““The pandemic triggered unprecedented challenges for long-term care facilities and the seniors that rely on this care,” said Cheryl Heiks, Executive Director of the Delaware Health Care Facilities Association. “Today’s announcement demonstrates the commitment of both the Governor and Delaware’s federal delegation to the importance of these facilities and the critical care they provide.”

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) on Tuesday announced a plan to use American Rescue Plan Act funds available to Medicaid programs to recruit and retain Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who provide home and community-based services to Delawareans with disabilities. Under DHSS’ plan, new DSPs employed on or after May 1, 2021, and existing DSPs who were employed prior to April 30, 2021, would be eligible for a one-time $1,000 payment if they work a minimum of 25 hours a week.

Governor Carney, Lt. Governor Hall-Long and members of Delaware’s congressional delegation have recently announced several initiatives funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Last week, Governor Carney announced plans to invest $26.4 million in affordable housing in Wilmington, $50 million for jobs training programs statewide, and $50 million to build a modern Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna. 

In Bridgeville last month, Governor Carney announced a $110 million plan to provide universal, wired broadband access for all Delaware homes and businesses. Delaware is aiming to become the first state to close every “last mile” with wired, high-speed broadband.

Additionally, Governor Carney and Lt. Governor Hall-Long announced a $100 million Community Investment Recovery Fund to support major, nonprofit capital projects statewide. 

Click here for the Community Investment Recovery Fund application for nonprofits. 

Visit de.gov/rescueplan to learn more about how the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) is helping in Delaware.

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Governor Carney Announces Department of Education (DOE) Nomination

Dr. Mark Holodick, now at the University of Delaware, spent a decade leading the Brandywine School District as Superintendent 

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday announced that Dr. Mark Holodick, former superintendent of the Brandywine School District, will be nominated to serve as next Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education (DOE).

Governor Carney’s nomination must be approved by the Delaware Senate.

“Dr. Holodick spent a decade leading the Brandywine School District and understands what it takes to create a culture where all students and educators can succeed,” said Governor Carney. “His experience as Superintendent of Brandywine, and before that as a principal, will help him support school leaders and educators across our state. As Secretary, he will continue focusing our efforts to support our most disadvantaged students and make sure that all Delaware children are getting the education they deserve. I want to thank Mark for his willingness to serve, and members of the Senate for considering his nomination.”

Last year, Holodick joined the Delaware Academy for School Leadership at the University of Delaware, where he leads coaching and professional development programs for principals and other school and district leaders. He had been Superintendent of the Brandywine School District since 2009, overseeing 16 schools with more than 10,000 students.

 

Previously, Holodick was principal at Concord High School and at a blended middle and high school in the Delmar School District. 

 

Holodick was named Administrator of the Year in 2016 by the Delaware Association of Educational Office Professionals and Superintendent of the Year in 2017 by the Delaware Chief School Officers Association.

“I appreciate being given the opportunity to work collaboratively with educators and stakeholders across Delaware with a focus on improving opportunities and outcomes for all students,” said Holodick. “If confirmed by the Senate, I will assume the position of Secretary with much gratitude and enthusiasm.”

 

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