Delaware Child Care Professional Bonus Registry Now Open

Delaware child care professionals now can submit to receive $1,000 direct payments from the Delaware Department of Education.

The state is using $10.6 million of its federal American Rescue Plan funding to pay for the bonuses, a first-of-its-kind initiative to show appreciation for and incentivize retention in a critical workforce.  Those professionals who are at least 18 years of age and work in licensed Delaware child care programs directly with children for at least 20 hours per week for at least 90 days are eligible.

“These professionals support our earliest learners and their families,” Secretary of Education Mark Holodick said. “COVID-19 highlighted just how essential their work is every day. Many of our licensed child care programs remained open throughout the pandemic, providing critical care for children and allowing their families to continue their work in our hospitals, correctional institutions, police and fire stations and other essential jobs.”

The Delaware Department of Education spent recent months building a secure data collection system, which will be used to collect employee information and verify eligibility. The application will be open for two months with all submissions due by July 29, 2022.

After being verified, licensed child care professionals can expect to receive their payments in up to 10 days if they choose direct deposit or up to 30 days if they choose to receive a check by U.S. mail.

Licensed child care professionals can find more information and apply online at de.gov/childcarebonus.

Media contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006


Milford School Psychologist Delaware 2022 Behavioral Health Professional Of Year

A school psychologist from Milford School District is the state’s first ever Delaware Behavioral Health Professional of the Year.

Rosa DiPiazza of Mispillion Elementary School said she approaches all of her relationships – with students, families, community members and colleagues – with genuine curiosity and interest.

“I want to understand the experiences, feelings and perspectives of the people with whom I work. I want to facilitate safe meeting spaces for people to share their stories. When we understand the why behind others’ actions, we are often more empathetic towards situations that might have otherwise angered us,” she said. “When we are more empathetic, we are better able to work together to solve problems. People want to feel heard, validated, and respected (even little ones).”

Secretary of Education Mark Holodick made the surprise announcement at the school Thursday afternoon during a school-wide staff meeting.

“Rosa is an excellent representative for the critical work that behavioral health professionals perform in schools across our state every day,” he said. “Mental health is health. Our students need to be healthy to learn, and I am proud of the work Rosa and BHPs across Delaware are leading for the wellness and growth of our students, families and communities.”

DiPiazza said she is known in her school for being able to build relationships with all families, including those who don’t yet have strong relationships with the school staff.

“I think this is because I am able to interact with them openly and non-judgmentally. I work hard to understand others’ backgrounds and situations and have no problem seeking out cultural brokers to facilitate that understanding,” she said. “I do not expect people to respect me simply because of my position. I earn the respect of adults and students by being honest, professional and staying focused on solving the problems at hand … When I interact with students, I prioritize presenting myself as a safe person who is there to help them with whatever they need help with. I am kind, keep my promises and build trust.”

DiPiazza has led her school’s Trauma-Informed Classrooms (TIC) Goal Team for the past three years. The team provides trauma education and implementation support for building- and classroom-level practices to help reduce the negative impact of trauma on students.

“These initiatives have provided the education and tools necessary to support staff and students in becoming more mindful and understanding in their interactions,” she said. “When we are able to self-regulate and see behavior not as a reflection of who a child is but as an indicator of what has happened to them, we are better able to show compassion towards each other, which in turn builds a stronger school community.”

Milford Director of Student Services Laura Manges recommended DiPiazza for the honor, saying she is a highly skilled school psychologist and a well-respected colleague.

“She readily offers in-classroom supports to teaching staff in order to guarantee the fidelity of implementation of behavior interventions and consistently monitors the progress of interventions,” Manges said. “She has worked diligently to support at-risk students with mental health needs by offering mentoring to instructional and counseling staff. Rosa works closely with families in order to create trusting relationships designed to assist them in helping their students develop better emotional regulation skills.”

The Delaware State Behavioral Health Professional of the Year (BHPY) program is administered by the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE). The program recognizes outstanding service by school employees who are health care practitioners or human service providers who offer services for the purpose of improving an individual’s mental health. The Delaware Charter School Network also is invited to participate. Employees considered for the award include:

  • School counselors
  • School social workers
  • Licensed clinical social workers
  • School psychologists
  • School nurses

From those nominated at a local level, one behavioral health professional of the year moves forward to represent each district or the charter school community in the state program. Each district/charter network winner receives a $2,000 personal award from the winner’s district or charter school. The state program then chooses one person annually to serve as Delaware’s Behavioral Health Professional of the Year. State winners receive an additional $3,000 personal award from DDOE as well as $5,000 to be used for the educational benefit of his or her students.

Learn more about all the 2022 District/Charter Behavioral Health Professionals of the Year here.

The Delaware Department of Education thanks the following for their support as members of the application review and interview committees: 

  • Jennifer Davis, Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) education associate for student services and special populations
  • Jodi DaCosta, 2021 Delaware School Counselor of the Year
  • Candice Fifer, State Board of Education member and licensed clinical social worker
  • Stephanie Ingram, Delaware State Education Association president
  • Teri Lawler, DDOE education associate, trauma-informed practices and social and emotional learning
  • Valerie Longhurst, state representative and House majority leader
  • John Marinucci, Delaware School Boards Association executive director
  • Monique Martin, DDOE education associate, equity
  • Riley Zarzycki, HOSA-Future Health Professionals student


Auditor McGuiness: 20 Performance Audits Show State School Districts, DOE Could Improve Background Check Processes

DOVER, Del. – State Auditor Kathy McGuiness stated today that Delaware’s 19 school districts and the Department of Education (DOE) could improve their criminal background check processes for people with the opportunity to have personal contact with students.

“My audit team completed 20 performance audits – one audit of each of the state’s 19 school districts and one of the Department of Education – and assessed how well each entity is complying with state laws and regulations regarding required criminal background checks,” McGuiness said. “The goal here is to ensure Delaware’s students are protected from potential exposure to people with a known criminal history of harming children.”

All 20 audits, which were released yesterday and today and can be found on auditor.delaware.gov, contain findings and recommendations for improvement.

“Every entity we audited had internal controls in place for following the criminal background check process,” McGuiness said. “But as we examined how well these entities followed state laws and regulations, we discovered that districts’ management teams were using a wide variety of processes and procedures, and opportunities existed to improve districts’ internal controls.

“Ensuring background check clearance requirements under state law and regulations are satisfied is critical to protect students and to address legal and governance responsibilities placed on the district and school board.

“In all cases, once we determined compliance with federal and state background checks, then the key factor we were looking for was whether management documented its review of those background checks and actively determined the person was suitable to work with children, which is what the law requires.”

McGuiness pointed out that districts spend taxpayer money each year on having state and federal criminal background checks performed on new employees, contractors, volunteers and student teachers.

“Performance audits are a valuable tool to determine information beyond whether taxpayer money was spent on allowable expenses,” McGuiness said. “These audits were designed to ensure that, since districts are spending this money, they are following the processes, procedures, laws and regulations that govern how they are to use those checks to ensure the safety of district children.”

The audit team examined background check samples from each district and DOE, then tested each entity’s internal controls by reviewing provided documentation to see whether management had determined if each employee, contractor, volunteer or student teacher was permitted by law to work with children.

“I thank all of the districts and DOE for their cooperation during these audits,” McGuiness said. “Work began on these reviews before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and we all understand how much pressure schools have been under as they transitioned from full-time in-person learning to full-time virtual learning to hybrid learning options.

“At the end of the day, we are all on the same side: wanting students to be in safe learning environments with trusted adults surrounding them,” McGuiness added.

The 20 criminal background check performance audits can be located on the Auditor’s Office website here under “Performance Audits.”

 

About the Delaware State Auditor

The Delaware State Auditor serves Delawareans by providing independent objective oversight of the state government’s use of taxpayer dollars with the goal of deterring fraud, waste and abuse through unbiased assessments, including the use of various audits, special reports, and investigations of financial operations designed to ensure statutory compliance while enhancing governmental economy, efficiency and effectiveness. For more information, visit the website, and connect with the office on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, or Instagram

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Contact:       

Anna Nuzzolese, Executive Assistant

302-857-3907

Anna.Nuzzolese@delaware.gov


Governor Carney, Secretary Bunting Announce Accelerated Learning Plan

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney and Secretary of Education Susan Bunting on Tuesday announced their plans for helping schools support students and address unfinished learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using federal funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, Delaware will focus on key areas to support districts and charter schools in helping students make up for unfinished learning.  The state received roughly $21 million for K-12 education and districts and charter schools received more than $164 million from this bill.

The Delaware Strategy to Accelerate Learning focuses on four core actions:

  • Support the Use of High-Quality Instructional Materials: Provide statewide licenses for access to high quality instructional materials such as Zearn Math for every rising 1st through 8th grader and Summer Booster Literacy for every rising 1st through 5th grader.
  • Support Training and Professional Learning: Provide initial and ongoing professional learning to support learning acceleration, which will also be open to those working in nonprofit programs and other summer and after-school programs.
  • Support Leveraging Data to Diagnose Unfinished Learning: Support schools to implement a balanced assessment system and leverage data that supports educators in diagnosing unfinished learning and providing the necessary scaffolds to ensure all students have access to grade level instruction.
  • Support Structures to Accelerate Learning: Provide high-dosage tutoring beginning this summer, with a focus on students who need the most support.

The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) will also provide access for every student to an online text repository of roughly 3 million e-books and the Delaware public library collection. Schools will have the ability to track how many texts students have read and how much time is spent reading. These resources and trainings are also available to community organizations, other entities serving students over the summer and after school, and to families at home, to ensure no matter where children are, they are getting high-quality educational services.

Additional expenditures from this federal funding include supports for non-English speaking families and family engagement around these resources, support for Delaware’s school-based wellness centers, targeted professional learning packages for high-need schools, behavioral health supports, and more.

In addition, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), passed by Congress last month, will provide DDOE more than $40 million and districts and charters nearly $370 million. DDOE will be engaging stakeholders to solicit input on key areas the state can invest its portion of funding, with a particular focus on how to support students who were most affected by the pandemic. Districts and charter schools will be crafting plans on how they will spend their funds with stakeholder engagement at the local level.

DDOE will hold a Facebook Live in early May to give families and community members an overview of the state’s accelerated learning plan, take questions, and share how families can help their students using these resources.

Questions or feedback on this plan can be sent to stakeholder.feedback@doe.k12.de.us.

“I want to thank our federal delegation for their work to secure these critical funds for Delaware’s schools and communities,” said Governor John Carney. “Helping our schools make up for the unfinished learning that occurred over the past year is going to be one of the most important things we as a state do. I want to also thank our educators, district and charter leaders, principals, school nurses, and everyone who works in our schools for the work they are doing. These resources are here to help you maximize your impact.”

“Both our educators and our families are focused on preparing students for grade-level instruction at the beginning of the upcoming school year. Through our accelerated learning plan, we will be able to supplement instructional time that may have been impacted by COVID-19 closures,” said Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “The Delaware Department of Education is a support agency. We look forward to working with our district and charter leaders, as well as our educators and non-profit partners, to maximize academic growth during the summer.”

“We are thankful for this federal funding because it will help students and educators to recover from this public health crisis,” said Stephanie Ingram, President of the Delaware State Education Association. “It will provide those who need additional support the most with an opportunity to access this support anywhere, at any time. We are particularly encouraged by the professional development and training being provided as well as the additional mental health supports for students and educators. Such supports have become even more of a necessity over the last year.”

“As we debated economic relief packages in Congress, I would not back down when it came to prioritizing funding to states and school districts to help our students catch up on the learning they might have missed due to the pandemic,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “Our children, particularly our most vulnerable students, deserve access to high-quality accelerated learning and summer school programs, and our educators will need the resources and tools to help our students clear the learning hurdles brought on by the past year. I’m proud of Delaware’s announcement, and commend Governor Carney and Secretary Bunting for their ongoing focus on community engagement and helping all students, especially those challenged the most by this pandemic.”

“The past year has posed dramatic new challenges for students, educators, and families,” said U.S. Senator Chris Coons. “I am grateful for the leadership of Delaware’s teachers and district leaders, Governor Carney, and Secretary Bunting in seeking out new ways to support our students. These critical investments will help identify areas where additional support is needed, provide instructional tools, and give students more one-on-one time for extra support.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every part of Delawareans’ lives, including our children’s ability to learn and thrive. That’s why, as the federal delegation worked on COVID relief legislation, one of the top priorities for Senators Carper, Coons, and I was ensuring that we obtained funding to help compensate for learning loss experienced over this past school year,” said U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester. “I want to thank Governor Carney and Secretary Bunting for their efforts in ensuring that these federal resources make it to the students and educators who need them most.”

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our students has been truly monumental, upending the learning process in almost every way imaginable. We know that many students have fallen behind, and it’s our duty to get each and every child in our schools back on track,” said State Representative Kim Williams, Chair of the House Education Committee. “I am pleased to see that significant resources have been dedicated to this vitally important task, and am confident that educators, administrators and education professionals across Delaware will put them to good use in the months ahead.”

“I’m thrilled Governor Carney is investing federal dollars in professional development opportunities for educators in our high-needs schools — a key provision in the interim recommendations issued by the Redding Consortium for Educational Equity earlier this year,” said State Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” LockmanVice Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “This is an important first step toward providing the sustained and consistent support our educators, our students and our families deserve. I look forward to working with him to make this a permanent component of our efforts to improve outcomes for students at the greatest risk of falling behind.”

“The pandemic has meant less direct instruction time for many of our students as we have worked to open schools with many mitigation strategies in place,” said Dr. Dan Shelton, Superintendent of the Christina School District. “In Christina, we are utilizing an expanded school year to ensure that we have opportunities for learning to extend beyond the traditional school year. We are also partnering with Adult Ed. so that we have multiple avenues for our High School Students to gain Credit Recovery. Partnering with the Delaware Department of Education, we will also be offering individual tutoring and online math support through the Zearn platform. We are planning to develop lessons around the resources available in SORA, in addition to the curriculum mapping our specialists have developed.”

“The Delaware Hispanic Commission has been advocating for a Language Access Plan that provides equal access to services to all non-English speaking Delawareans,” said Javier Torrijos, Chairman of the Delaware Hispanic Commission. “The Governor and the Department of Education has moved one step closer toward meeting this critical need by providing a language line where parents can call the school in their native tongue and always have an interpreter available. Many Spanish speaking parents have been unable to communicate with their children’s teacher due to the language barrier. They now can engage in a full conversation to better understand their students’ progress and find out what is going on at their school. They can be directly involved whereas previously this was not possible due to the language barrier. We congratulate Governor Carney and Secretary Bunting in taking this crucial step in providing this long overdue service.”

“As President of the Delaware School-Based Health Alliance and Director of Behavioral Health for the Colonial School District, I am very grateful for the Governor’s support of High School Wellness Centers in Delaware, which are playing a key role in supporting adolescent health both in the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jon CooperDirector of Behavioral Health at the Colonial School District. “Now more than ever, our adolescents need access to the medical and behavioral health services that School Based Wellness Centers provide.”

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Governor Carney, Secretary Bunting Announce Launch of the Governor’s Institute for School Leadership

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney and Dr. Susan Bunting on Friday announced the launch of the Governor’s Institute for School Leadership (GISL), a two-pronged training program for aspiring school leaders and current district leaders.

A partnership between the Governor’s Office, Delaware Department of Education, University of Delaware, and Delaware’s public schools, the institute launches this month with two programs: Superintendent Study Council and Assistant Principal Academy.

“We know how critical great school and district leaders are to the success of our schools,” said Governor John Carney. “This is a two-pronged approach to support the professional learning of those at both ends of the school leadership spectrum. The Institute will help foster critical collaboration and leverage best practices to develop a talented cohort of school and district-level leaders.”

Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education said supporting and developing school and district leadership is critical to the state’s school system.

“Both current and aspiring leaders need the kind of ‘on-the-job support’ that this institute offers. The challenges they face evolve constantly. Having both a peer network and the opportunity to collaborate with state and national experts will facilitate their making the best decisions for both our educators and students,” she said.

The Superintendent Study Council creates a leadership network of Delaware school district superintendents and other district office administrators who will meet monthly for discussion, collaboration, and professional learning on relevant and timely topics related to school improvement, equity, and improving outcomes for all students.

“The opportunity for superintendents and other leaders to network together and learn from experts in the field is invaluable. This will only strengthen leadership across our state,” said Appoquinimink Superintendent Matt Burrows.

The Assistant Principal Academy is a highly selective 12-month program designed to develop distinguished assistant principals into transformational building-level principals. The program consists of five modules of instruction aligned to the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL), coaching by University of Delaware Academy for School Leadership (DASL) leadership coaches and a practice-based mentorship with a successful building principal.

Academy fellows must have three or more years of experience. The first cohort includes 12 assistant principals representing schools from across Delaware.

“I appreciate that at the core of the Governor’s Institute for School Leadership program is a targeted focus on cultivating the capacity and disposition of assistant principals to confront and alter conditions that place barriers to student success. As a fellow, I am grateful for the opportunity to immerse myself in this work with a stellar cohort of forward-thinking educators from across the state and renowned national researchers in the field,” said Nathalie Princilus, assistant principal at New Castle County Vocational Technical School District’s Delcastle Technical High School.

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