ICYMI: Dolly Parton in Delaware for the Imagination Library Statewide Celebration

1,005 Delaware Children Signed Up in One Week

WILMINGTON, Del.– Governor John Carney, First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, and Dr. Annie Norman of the Delaware Libraries on Thursday welcomed American icon Dolly Parton for a statewide celebration of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library surrounded by public librarians and library staff, reading and early education advocates, superintendents, principals, members of the General Assembly and members of the Cabinet. This event was a celebration that every child in Delaware from birth to age five, is eligible to enroll in this free book-gifting program.

Since the public announcement of Dolly’s arrival in Delaware last week, more than 1,000 Delaware children have been signed up for the Imagination Library. As of last week, over 21,000 Delaware children are enrolled in the program.

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Dolly Parton started her Imagination Library in 1995 to foster a love of reading for the children within her home county. Today, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is the world’s preeminent early childhood book-gifting program that is dedicated to inspiring a love of reading. In partnership with local affiliate partners, the program mails high quality, age-appropriate books to children from birth to age five – at no cost to families. Over 2 million books are mailed each month in five countries –every 1.4 seconds a book is mailed.

“The Imagination Library has deepened Dolly Parton’s legacy in the most meaningful possible way, through service to our children,” said Governor John Carney. “Thank you to Dolly Parton and her team for coming to Delaware to celebrate the Imagination Library of Delaware program, and thanks to Dr. Norman, my wife Tracey, and the amazing partners across the state that have made this program a success.”

In Delaware, every child under the age of five is eligible to receive a gift of a monthly book at no charge to families. Families can sign up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library on Delaware Libraries’ website: delawarelibraries.org/imagination.

“With gratitude to all the partners, it is my privilege to serve as the honorary chair of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Delaware,” said First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney. “The Imagination Library books are a wonderful collection and I’m grateful I’ve been able to read them with young Delawareans since the program’s inception. I look forward to seeing more Delaware families sign up for this incredible program.”

“Delaware Libraries are delighted to facilitate Imagination Library for our youngest Delawareans and their families,” said Dr. Annie Norman, State Librarian. “Acquiring the reading and library habit early is a foundation for curiosity and success throughout life!”

Rewatch Thursday’s event:

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation, has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world. In partnership with local community affiliates, the program has gifted well over 180 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland.

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Dolly Parton started her Imagination Library in 1995 to foster a love of reading for the children within her home county. Today, her program mails over 2 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month directly to children’s homes. Each child enrolled in the program receives one book per month until their fifth birthday – at no cost to families. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit imaginationlibrary.com



Photo credit: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Governor Carney, First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney Encourage Reading This Fall

September marks Library Card Sign-up Month, Free Story Walks in each county

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney and First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney on Friday encouraged students and families to read throughout the school year by promoting the new Story Walks created in partnership with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE), the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Delaware Division of Libraries and Syncretic Press, a multi-lingual book publisher based in Wilmington.

“Delaware students, families and educators worked hard this summer to make sure learning was accelerated before students went back to classrooms. This effort was capped off with the introduction of the Story Walks in our Delaware State Parks,” said Governor Carney. “One of our highest education priorities is to make sure third graders are reading at grade level. Programs like these Story Walks will help children experience reading in an interactive way in all three counties. We encourage you to check out the Story Walks and sign up for a library card if you don’t have one.”

“Language exposure is such a huge part of healthy brain development, and we’re not going to be able to tackle any of our big problems unless we address that healthy brain development for young children,” said First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney. “Bringing books to settings where kids are comfortable and that they associate with fun, like at our parks, is a great way to encourage reading.”



The Story Walks launched on September 1 in Brandywine Park, Killen’s Pond, and Trap Pond. There is a different story featured at each park including: Noah and the Red Cat, Spanish Tortilla, and Time to Play. The book titles and installations were managed by Syncretic Press. All stories are available in English and Spanish.

“We are grateful for the State Literacy Plan funding that enabled us to partner with DNREC on this project so we can promote both reading and outdoor exercise. When families visit Delaware’s beautiful parks, we hope the story walks will provide an enjoyable opportunity to jump into a new book,” said Secretary of Education Susan Bunting. “Families can read the stories together and talk about the books with their children while they are walking. They can discuss what the characters are doing and make predictions from one story board to the next. We hope such experiences encourage reading as a family not just while at the park but also when at home. It’s our goal to create lifelong readers in the state of Delaware.”

“We are excited to host these Story Walks within Delaware State Parks and offer our visitors opportunities to read while in nature,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “The stories are fun to read and provide short literary adventures that we hope both children and adults enjoy exploring.”

“In times when everything moves so fast even when we read a story, a Book Walk allows you to pause between the pages and wonder what is coming next as you literally walk to the next page. Engaging the mind and body this way allows the reader to better savor the story and the illustrations,” said Enrique Morás, Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Syncretic Press. “We are excited to introduce these Latin American authors and illustrators to readers in Delaware. Bringing diverse perspectives on art and storytelling open up new windows of understanding, growth and tolerance in our community.”

The Delaware Division of Libraries is also promoting Library Card Sign-up Month throughout September. Individuals can sign up for a library card at delawarelibraries.org or in person at their local public library. 

“September is Library Card Sign-up Month! A library card is a school essential, and it’s free,” said Annie Norman, State Librarian and Director of the Delaware Division of Libraries. “About half of Delawareans have a library card. Register for your library card today, online or in person at your local public library.”



First Chance Delaware Announces Wilmington Community of Hope

Program Supports Neighborhood-Based Legal Services

WILMINGTON, Del. – Delaware First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, together with the Dual Generation Center at the Stubbs Early Education Center and the Nemours Children’s Health System Jessup Street Clinic, are announcing an expansion of the First Chance Delaware initiative to build on progress toward strengthening children and families and promoting community resilience in Wilmington.

First Lady Carney launched the First Chance Delaware initiative in 2018 to recognize and facilitate effective partnerships, to share and research best practices, and to promote opportunities to collaborate in support of Delaware’s children.

This expansion establishes the Wilmington Community of Hope, a neighborhood-based initiative, funded through a private grant that promotes family and community resilience through effective partnerships between government, health care, community, and philanthropy. The Wilmington Community of Hope is based in a neighborhood near the Stubbs Dual Generation Center and Jessup St. Clinic on the east side of Wilmington.

“So many Delaware families have experienced loss and upheaval during the pandemic, and as always, the most vulnerable have been hit the hardest,” said First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney. “In our efforts to influence the social determinants of health and opportunity, the Wilmington Community of Hope will help to give families a new kind of voice when it comes to issues like health care, employment, and housing. We are deeply grateful for the partnership of Casey Family Programs, the Dual Generation Center at Stubbs, CLASI, Nemours, Children & Families First, and — in a real innovation for pro bono work — Potter Anderson. This collaboration represents exactly the kind of initiative we had hoped to facilitate through First Chance Delaware.”

“When it comes to the health and safety of our children and families, we must support communities in designing and building inclusive, equitable and more effective networks and partnerships that will ensure that all children and families have access to the opportunities and supports they need to thrive,” said David Sanders, Executive Vice President of Systems Improvement at Casey Family Programs. “The Wilmington Community of Hope is an example of how we can help community members develop truly effective and sustainable solutions to ensure that every child is safe and every family thrives.”

The partnership combines existing resources and supports currently offered to families at the Stubbs Dual Generation Center such as parenting supports, financial education, and job training, together with access to neighborhood based, multidisciplinary legal aid. Community Legal Aid Society, Inc., (CLASI) is an experienced legal aid organization in Delaware, and currently offers legal aid services across the state, including a medical-legal partnership with the public health department. This newly embedded support will generally follow a medical-legal partnership model, accepting referrals from Nemours’ Jessup Street Clinic & the Stubbs Dual Generation Center to provide legal advocacy that address the social determinants of health. CLASI will partner with Children & Families First to offer multidisciplinary legal aid, incorporating a peer-support advocate with lived expertise to effectively engage with families and build community resilience.

“CLASI is excited to work with our partners to support vulnerable people living in the Community of Hope catchment area,” said Daniel Atkins, Executive Director of the Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. “Coming out of the pandemic, it is times like these, where we need to be creative and proactive in delivering crucial services that will assist families in avoiding homelessness, hunger, domestic violence, and other preventable tragedies.

On behalf of the Stubbs Early Education Center and Dual Generation Center at Stubbs, we are grateful for the heart of First Lady Carney and First Chance Delaware,” said Dr. Whitney Williams, Principal, Stubbs Early Education Center. “Recognizing, supporting, and providing essential resources to meet the needs of our most vulnerable children and families is key to positively transforming their quality of life. A family’s wellness promotes a child’s wellness – physically, academically, socially and emotionally. We are privileged to partner for the expansion of services to strengthen children and families and promote community resilience in Wilmington.”

“The First Chance Delaware Partnership is vital to the work that we do at the Dual Generation Center,” said Helen Anderson, Director of Dual Generation Services, Stubbs Early Education Center. “Many of the families that we work with have legal concerns and find it difficult to get assistance. During the Pandemic many of the families had issues with Landlords, Custody Concerns, and legal barriers blocking employment. This partnership will add another opportunity to the residents of Eastside and families of Wilmington. We are excited about this meaningful work and look forward to working with all our partners. I want to thank First Lady Carney for allowing us to be a part of this journey.

“Nemours is pleased to engage in this novel community partnership to help address the complex health and social needs of our most vulnerable patients, said Abby Nerlinger, MD, MPH, Pediatric Hospitalist, Nemours Children’s Health System. “Many of these social determinants of health have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, making this initiative particularly timely.  The pediatric medical-legal partnership model aligns with efforts across Nemours Children’s Health System to improve health equity and create healthier futures for all children and families.”

“Years of research have shown that vital social and community supports form the foundation needed for children to thrive,” said Kirsten Olson, CEO of Children & Families First. “The Wilmington Community of Hope initiative is a bold model that fulfills our shared obligation to foster every child’s potential. For 137 years, Children & Families First has lived our mission to help children and families thrive. This powerful next step, ensuring that every child, family, and individual receives coordinated support to achieve lifelong physical, social, emotional, and financial well-being,  will forever change the trajectory of all our lives as we build vibrant, healthy communities together.”

“Lawyers have a professional obligation to advocate for justice for those who face marginalization,” said William L. Chapman, Jr., Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Pro Bono Services at Potter Anderson & Corroon. “Our work with First Chance Delaware is part of Potter Anderson’s longstanding commitment to provide public interest legal services with a focus on changing the social determinants of health and hope for our clients. We are committed to working with our partners to address our clients’ unmet legal needs, and as First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney stated in a speech at our firm, make sure their voices and strengths along with those in their communities are recognized and respected in a way that individuals in other zip codes can take for granted.”

The Wilmington Community of Hope partners are focused on providing direct supportive services to families with a focus on prevention, healing, and wellness. This partnership provides an upstream neighborhood-based approach to address risk factors related to child maltreatment and improve population and community health for children and families.

Visit de.gov/firstchance to learn more about First Chance Delaware.


Governor Carney Announces 2021 Compassionate Champion Award Recipients

Individuals and organizations recognized for their dedication to trauma-informed care.

WILMINGTON, Del. –  Governor John Carney and First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney on Wednesday announced eight recipients of the Compassionate Champion Awards, the state’s recognition program for organizations and individuals in Delaware providing exemplary trauma-informed care. Each 2021 award winner falls within a distinct category –  education, first responder, healthcare, community organization and government – and represent those who go above and beyond in providing compassionate care.

“Across the state of Delaware, we have organizations and individuals who have made the commitment to serve their communities using trauma-informed approaches,” said Governor Carney. “This year, more than ever, it has been crucial to serve with compassion and an understanding of trauma and its effects. Our Compassionate Champion Award recipients have gone above and beyond to make Delaware and its citizens stronger, healthier, and more compassionate. We thank them for all they do for the community.”

“In the past year, we’ve seen the impacts of trauma perhaps more clearly, more publicly, than ever before. And, thanks to our Compassionate Champion Award recipients and many others in our state, we’ve also seen the impact and promise of how we can support each other,” said First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney. “These organizations and individuals have answered the challenge of the past year-plus to support and strengthen communities throughout Delaware. We’ve seen that trauma and challenge are not destiny; that we have the tools to build a better future, and that together, we can do just that.”

2021 Compassionate Champion Award Recipients:

Education:  Sarah Pyle Academy

First Responder:  New Castle County Division of Police, Hero Help Behavioral Health Unit

Healthcare:  ChristianaCare, special recognition to Dr. Stacey Boyer, PsyD and Megan O’Hara, LCSW

Community Organization:  Children & Families First Trauma Response Team

Government:  Erin Connelly, Victim Services Coordinator, Delaware Department of Correction

Due to the extraordinary nominees this year in the education and first responder categories, we are proud to recognize the Compassionate Champion Award First Runners Up:

Education 1st Runner Up: The Bancroft School

Education 1st Runner Up:  Evan G. Shortlidge Academy

First Responder 1st Runner Up: Melissa Pennachi, Newark Police Department


To celebrate the award recipients, a virtual celebration event will take place on Thursday, June 3 at 6:00 p.m. The event can be viewed on the Governor’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

Since 2018, the Family Services Cabinet Council has worked to implement Executive Order #24, which launched efforts to make Delaware a trauma-informed state. The Family Services Cabinet Council is a cabinet-level group reestablished by Governor Carney in February 2017 to coordinate public and private services for Delaware families.

For more information on the Compassionate Champion Awards, visit de.gov/cca. To learn more about Trauma Awareness Month, visit  traumamattersdelaware.org.


First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney Announces “First Chance” Award Recipients

Awards recognize leaders, organizations that provided meals for children during spring and summer

WILMINGTON, Del. – First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney and members of the End Childhood Hunger Task Force (ECHO) on Friday announced recipients of “First Chance” awards. The award recipients consist of leaders and teams that stepped up to keep feeding Delaware children when school buildings had to close from mid-March through June due to COVID-19.

“School-based food services represent our front line of defense against childhood hunger and in support of the nutrition essential to healthy development and learning,” said First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney. “When school buildings had to close, it took a wide range of teams – comprised of dedicated, creative, determined individuals – to devise and implement plans to continue to feed our kids. We are so very grateful for their extraordinary work, which they are still doing, on behalf of the children of Delaware. We are proud to recognize these leaders and teams with First Chance awards for extraordinary service to Delaware’s children during the pandemic.”

First Chance Award Recipients:

  • Appoquinimink School District – Janice Vander Decker

  • Boys & Girls Club of Delaware – Tony Windsor

  • Brandywine School District, School Nutrition – Colleen Carter

  • Caesar Rodney School District – Paul Rodgers

  • Cape Henlopen School District – Cheryle Lord-Gordon

  • Capital School District – James Trower

  • Christina School District – Andrea Solge

  • City of Wilmington, Department of Youth and Families, Food Service Program – Victoria Fuentes-Cox

  • Colonial School District – A. Paula Angelucci

  • Community Education Building PS #5 LLC – Havena Hollins

  • Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Delaware Division of Social Services – Mondel Powell

  • Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Delaware Division of Social Services (Pandemic-EBT Customer Service Team) – Maggie Smith, Carolyn Kincaid, and Marcella Spady

  • Delaware Department of Transportation – Mike Rivera, Dan Sturgeon, Warren Ziegler, Butch Kelley, and Laura Brown 

  • Delaware National Guard – Captain Kevin Caneco, Army 1st Lt. James Willey, and Sgt. 1st Class Brian Turner

  • Ezion Fair Community Academy – Reverend Dr. Christopher Curry

  • Family Outreach Multipurpose Community Center Inc. – Stephanie Dukes

  • Food Bank of Delaware – Sanjay Malik

  • Harry K Foundation – Harry Keswani

  • Indian River School District – Clifton Toomey

  • Lake Forest School District – Jennifer Montano

  • Laurel School District – Julie Gibbons

  • Milford School District – Sharon Forrest

  • Polytech School District – Carol Arrington

  • Red Clay Consolidated School District – Jessica Terranova RD, LDN

  • Seaford School District – William Mengel

  • Smyrna School District – Roger Holt

  • Tarbiyah School – Dr. Amna Latif

  • The Little People Child Development Center – Janice Palmer

  • Woodbridge School District – Joann Joseph

  • YMCA of Delaware – Courtney Hoy

The award recipients, many of whom are Delaware’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors, were able to coordinate sites early this spring so that families could pick up meals for children to eat at home. Additional organizations and community partners worked with the SFSP sponsors to ensure students had nutritious meals outside of school. 

Members of the statewide ECHO Task Force selected the award recipients. With a central team convened by the First Lady, the Task Force includes representatives from the Food Bank of Delaware, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Social Services. The task force’s specific goals include increasing participation and building partnerships in support of the Summer Food Service Program and alternative model school breakfasts. The task force also seeks to promote awareness of all programs, public and private, available to Delawareans experiencing food insecurity.

“The Delaware Department of Education is grateful for all of the hard work and dedication of the Summer Food Service Program Sponsors who quickly jumped into action when schools closed,” said Aimee Beaman Education Associate for Nutrition Programs at the Delaware Department of Education. “Without their creativity and hard work, many children would have gone without the nutritious meals that the need to grow and learn.”

“Nothing is more important to all of us at the Department of Health and Social Services than making sure that Delaware children in need receive meals regularly,” said Ray Fitzgerald, Director of DHSS’ Division of Social Services. “We are grateful to all of the First Chance award recipients who helped us meet that priority during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The demand for food assistance as a result of the pandemic has been unprecedented,” said Charlotte McGarry, Chief Programs Officer for the Food Bank of Delaware. “It has truly taken our entire community to ensure that the nutritional needs of Delawareans – especially our children – are met. We are so thankful for all of the hunger heroes who have stepped up during this crisis to make sure children’s most basic needs are met.”

First Lady Carney launched the First Chance Delaware initiative in 2018 to recognize and facilitate effective partnerships, to share research and best practices, and to promote opportunities to collaborate in support of Delaware’s children. First Chance Delaware focuses its work on ending childhood hunger and expanding access to nutritious food for low-income children; promoting learning readiness through literacy, health and parent-child engagement programs; and advancing the recognition of – and effective responses to – adverse childhood experiences.