State of Delaware Announces Early Childhood Education Updates
Changes include new Associate Secretary for Early Learning Support, new grant funding, doubling of ECAP
WILMINGTON, Del.—Governor John Carney and the Delaware Department of Education on Monday announced a few notable early childhood education updates, ranging from governance updates to additional CARES Act funding to the state’s commitment to double Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP) funding.
The state is pleased to announce that Yvette Sanchez Fuentes has been hired as the first Associate Secretary for Early Childhood Support. This position, created by reallocating existing roles, will oversee both the Office of Early Learning (OEL) and the Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL), the latter of which recently moved to the department. This effort to consolidate early childhood governance has been a priority of the administration’s and has been supported by numerous early childhood advocates and leaders. Ms. Sanchez Fuentes served as the director for the Office of Head Start in the Obama Administration and served for two years as the President of the National Alliance for Hispanic Families. She will start Nov. 9.
The state is also announcing the creation of the Child Care Remote Learning Grant to support licensed child care facilities that are supporting school-age students’ remote learning. Licensed child care centers and homes are going above and beyond to help care for school-age children during remote learning, often times incurring additional costs to do so. The state has set aside $1 million in federal CARES Act funds for the grants, which will range between $500 and $7,500 depending on the need of the child care provider.
This grant is in addition to the Enhanced Reimbursement Program Delaware created in April. The Enhanced Reimbursement Program provides additional funding to hundreds of child care homes and centers each month. Through September, child care centers and homes received more than $75 million in Enhanced Reimbursement funding. This funding helps keep staff paid, helps child care providers meet strict health guidance, and assists with increased operating costs child cares face due to the pandemic.
“Providers have stepped up to fill an important need for Delaware families, and this grant funding will help them with the additional costs they face to expand their operations to support school age students,” said Governor Carney. “I’ve seen firsthand the challenge these child care providers are dealing with to support remote learning. Our state is grateful for our remarkable early childhood workforce, and we are excited to offer these grants to support our providers who are serving school age children.”
The Child Care Remote Learning Grants can be used to pay or reimburse providers for specific expenditures they’ve made or are making necessary to assist remote learning for school age children. Many child care providers are serving children from more than one district/charter, making their work doubly hard. The application will be available on www.de.gov/coronavirus by the end of the week.
“The Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood at the University of Delaware is excited to partner with the state on this important initiative and to administer the grant,” said Rena Hallam, DIEEC director. “These funds will help early childhood professionals support effective remote learning for school-age children in early care and education programs.”
Secretary of Education Susan Bunting noted that whether districts and charters opened for some in-person instruction or full remote learning, the need for a safe place for children to complete their remote learning is critical.
“These centers and homes are providing students a safe environment in which to engage in remote learning while their parents work in order to provide for their families,” said Secretary Bunting. “We appreciate how they have supported our students during this time and need to support their efforts. Many child care providers have been working through this pandemic to provide care to children of essential personnel, and we are grateful for their contributions to our state and our children every single day.”
Finally, the state recently announced a settlement in the ongoing education funding lawsuit. Among the provisions of the settlement, Delaware commits to doubling the funding dedicated to the Early Childhood Assistance Program (ECAP). The ECAP program is Delaware’s state-funded pre-k for disadvantaged children. Beginning in FY 2024, funding for ECAP will have a new floor of $12.2 million.