Governor Carney Signs Executive Order Making Delaware a Trauma-Informed State

Order will mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences, build resilience

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor Carney on Wednesday signed Executive Order #24 making Delaware a trauma-informed state. This Order provides direction for the Family Services Cabinet Council to help mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and build resilience in children, adults and communities.

ACEs can include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; physical or emotional neglect; household dysfunction, including substance abuse, untreated mental illness, or incarceration of a household member; domestic violence; and separation/divorce involving household members.

“We have children and families in Delaware who are affected by trauma in their lives, and we need to do everything we can to support them,” said Governor John Carney. “Addressing these issues as a community will help Delaware become a stronger and healthier state. The Family Services Cabinet Council will remain vigilant about this issue and work with many partners across the state to create trauma-responsive communities.”

The Executive Order was motivated by the work of the Family Services Cabinet Council – a cabinet-level group reestablished by Governor Carney in February 2017 that coordinates public and private services for Delaware families. This Executive Order will direct the Family Services Cabinet Council to develop tools for training state employees and community partners on the impact of exposure to ACEs, to promote ACE awareness, and to improve services and interventions for children and families exposed to trauma.

The Family Services Cabinet Council will work to identify gaps in available services, or service capacity, along the prevention and early intervention-treatment continuum for children and their caregivers statewide. The members also are charged with developing a comprehensive plan focused on early intervention for children and their caregivers exposed to adverse childhood experiences in order to help prevent abuse and neglect, and remedy the impact of it.

First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney is also committed to creating an environment that gives Delaware children a chance to succeed, and was present for the signing.

“You know, the word ‘trauma’ sounds like bad news, but what we’ve learned about brain science, about the impacts of childhood experiences, is actually very good news – because now, we can do something about it,” said First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney. “We can act on what we know – to prevent and mitigate the effects of trauma, and to build on the strengths of every child, every family, and every community. Trauma-informed care is a pre-requisite, to any effective strength-based strategy.”

The Executive Order also will direct state agencies that provide services for children and adults to integrate trauma-informed best practices, including trauma-specific language in requests for proposals and in service contracts with the state, when appropriate.

“The executive order signed today by Governor Carney demonstrates his commitment to making Delaware a trauma informed state,” said Josette Manning, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families. “I, along with my fellow agency heads who serve on the Family Services Cabinet Council, welcome this opportunity to improve the quality of services we provide to all Delawareans. We know that many of the children and families in Delaware have experienced trauma and toxic stress in their lives. We also know, based on years of research, that exposure to toxic stress can actually impact a child’s brain development and has been linked to higher rates of physical, social and emotional issues in adulthood. By focusing, as a state, on minimizing trauma and by helping people who have experienced trauma build resilience, we will improve the physical, social and emotional health of our children and families.”


Summer Food Service Program Meal Sites Available throughout Delaware

Delaware’s First Lady leads effort to ensure kids have access to healthy meals over summer

WILMINGTON, Del. – First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney and the Delaware Department of Education ask all Delawareans to spread the word about the availability of free meals this summer for children in need.

The Summer Food Service Program targets children in low-income areas to ensure they have nutritious meals during the summer. Children and teens 18 years old or younger are eligible to receive a meal at the open sites. It is a federally funded program operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and managed locally by the Delaware Department of Education.

“We’re asking all Delawareans to join in the fight against childhood hunger by spreading the word about the Summer Food Service Program,” said First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney. “Ensuring that every child has access to nutritious meals is a moral obligation that also supports the most urgent, practical goals we have for our state – for student engagement and achievement, for public health, and for a vibrant economy driven by a strong workforce.”

Delawareans can call “2-1-1” or text “food” or “comida” to 877-877 to find meal sites in Delaware.

“Children who depend on school food during the academic year still have needs when the school year ends,” said Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “The Summer Food Service Program provides nutritious meals to children in their own communities to meet their nutritional needs year-round.”

Last year, First Lady Carney led a task force in identifying new and innovative ways to increase access to child nutrition programs, specifically for families in rural areas when school is not in session. As a result, additional mobile meals programs, especially within participating school districts, were launched this summer, and aim to reach more rural children.

School District efforts to reach more children in 2018:

  • Woodbridge School District launched a mobile meals program, reaching children in their community who might not otherwise be able to get to their schools for meals.
  • Seaford School District launched an additional food truck.
  • Lake Forest School District joined the Summer Food Service Program for the first time this summer.
  • Smyrna School District launched Summer Food Service Program community sites for the first time.
  • Brandywine School District has a bus for mobile meals.
  • Colonial School District expanded its summer mobile meals program.
  • Red Clay, Capital and Caesar Rodney School Districts have expanded their Summer Food Service Programs.

Governor John Carney and First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney in April announced First Chance Delaware – an initiative led by the First Lady to recognize and facilitate effective partnerships, to share research and best practices, and to promote opportunities to collaborate in support of Delaware’s children. The Task Force to End Childhood Hunger is the first partnership to be recognized as a First Chance initiative. This task force’s specific goals include increasing participation and building partnerships in support of the Summer Food Service Program and alternative model school breakfasts.

Use the hashtag #summermealsDE to spread the word on social media.


Related news:
Governor Carney, First Lady, Casey Family Programs Announce “First Chance Delaware”
First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney’s remarks as prepared for delivery at the announcement of First Chance Delaware 
First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney Attends Learning Lab on State Strategies to Reduce Childhood Hunger

Governor Carney Hosts Ramadan Iftar Dinner at Woodburn

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney hosted 30 guests on Wednesday night at a Ramadan Iftar dinner at Woodburn, including members of Delaware’s Muslim community and statewide elected officials.

The Iftar is the evening meal after sunset that concludes the daily fasting during the month of Ramadan, which ends the evening of June 14 this year. For observers, the Iftar dinner and Ramadan are a time to reflect on humanity and to reaffirm commitments to helping the less fortunate.

Iftar at Woodburn

“Ramadan heightens our compassion and commitment to care for the most vulnerable among us, in addition to the spiritual practice of fasting that underlies the holy month,” said Governor Carney. “I will always stand as a friend of Delaware’s strong and vibrant Muslim community, which has given so much to our state and strengthened it in many ways.”

Wednesday’s event was the second Iftar dinner hosted by Governor Carney, and the fourth Iftar dinner hosted by a governor of Delaware. In attendance were representatives from six Delaware mosques, as well as First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall Long, and Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen.

“We welcome Governor Carney’s celebration of friendship by hosting his second Iftar dinner and welcoming us to Woodburn,” said Muhammed A. Niaz, chairman of the Islamic Academy of Delaware. “This historic home to Delaware’s governors is a fitting setting for reflection, conversation, and recommitting ourselves to helping others.”

“The Governor’s support for Delaware’s Muslim community during Ramadan is greatly appreciated,” said Usman Sandhu, president of the Islamic Society of Central Delaware. “We are pleased by our elected officials’ devotion to equality and diversity in our great state.”

Click here for photos from the dinner.


SATURDAY: Governor Carney, First Lady to Host Dover Days Open House

DOVER, Del. – The Governor will participate in the 85th Annual Dover Days Parade on Saturday, May 5, and will host an open house at Woodburn, the Governor’s residence, shortly following the parade. Dover Days is a festival promoting Delaware’s heritage and culture.

WHAT: The Governor will participate in the 85th Annual Dover Days Parade on Saturday, May 5, starting at 9:30 a.m. Following the parade, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Governor and First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney will host an open house at Woodburn, the Governor’s residence. The Governor will throw out the first pitch at the vintage baseball game located in the field behind Woodburn at 12:30 p.m.

WHO: Governor John Carney
First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney

WHEN: Parade begins at 9:30 a.m.
Open House will run 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Governor will throw first pitch at 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: Woodburn
151 Kings Hwy SW, Dover, DE 19901



First Chance Delaware

First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney’s remarks as prepared for delivery at the announcement of First Chance Delaware — an initiative led by the First Lady to recognize and facilitate effective partnerships, to share research and best practices, and to promote opportunities to collaborate in support of Delaware’s children.

But then Paul DiLorenzo from Casey asked us to think bigger, more in terms of promotion than response; and of course, that instantly made sense.When Jackie Mette first suggested that we apply to Casey Family Programs for a First Spouse Initiative Grant, I knew I wanted it to be about giving kids a chance to succeed, a chance to recognize and work toward their potential. So we started to think about specific programs that would do that in targeted ways – a kind of traditional approach for a first spouse; identify a need, a way to respond, and focus on it for as long as you’re here.

If our goal is, in a foundational way, to give Delaware’s children a chance to succeed, we can’t do that with one program; and we can’t do it by responding just to how kids suffer when they crash into obstacles; we have to deal with the obstacles themselves.

That’s the reality John recognized when, in his one of his first initiatives as Governor, he re-established the Family Services Cabinet Council. When families face foundational challenges, like access to stable housing and nutritious food, each adversity deepens all of the others, in a geometric – and generational – erosion of opportunity. So to be effective – and certainly, to be efficient – the efforts to alleviate those challenges must also be inter-connected and mutually reinforcing.

Our First Chance Initiative, with a founding grant from Casey Family Programs, seeks to encourage a coordinated, intentional, and evolving culture of commitment to Delaware’s children – to make the First State a place where every child has a First Chance to succeed.

The why of the First Chance Initiative is pretty obvious:

  • It’s our shared interest in public health, educational excellence and workforce development; in attracting businesses and talented employees, based on the skills of Delawareans and on the quality of life in our state;
  • it’s our interest in saving on emergency medical costs and other crisis interventions;
  • it’s our interest in parent-employee productivity and retention, and in supporting community safety and sustainability, by building on the fundamental strength of families.
  • And, even more obviously, it’s our moral obligation – to give kids a chance, a First Chance, to succeed.

As for the how of the First Chance Initiative:

First, we want to recognize cross-sector collaborations that are working, to promote awareness of what’s out there – both for families who might benefit and for prospective partners, who share an interest and want to get involved.

Second, we want to take that intentional, coordinated approach to expanding successful programs, especially where parents, children, and teens are engaged in partnerships and settings that they trust – partnerships like our evidence-based home visiting programs for newborns and moms; settings like our Boys & Girls Clubs, community centers, Y’s, libraries, faith-based settings, and public schools where adults invest in building strong relationships with students. While we have kids and families in these trusted programs and settings, how can we better coordinate a mutually reinforcing First Chance web of support and opportunity?

In our year of groundwork for the First Chance Initiative, we’ve focused on partnerships in three areas –
1. Addressing childhood hunger,
2. Promoting early literacy, and
3. Expanding trauma-informed care.

Good things are happening, and again, we want to build on those successes.

Good things like the program to help struggling readers, a program I had a chance to see in action at Manor Elementary School. The program is a partnership among the Reading Assist Institute and its private and public supporters, the Colonial School District, and AmeriCorps. We’re going to celebrate three years of that partnership at an end-of-year bash on April 26th, with food provided by the culinary arts students at William Penn.

First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney visits Wilmington Manor Elementary.
First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney visits Wilmington Manor Elementary in New Castle.

Good things are happening.

Good things like Compassionate Connections, a partnership I’ve been privileged to join.

The work started when Compassionate Schools, a national program, joined with Delaware’s Department of Education – with early involvement from the University of Delaware, and, once again, lead funding from Casey Family Programs. The Compassionate Schools work expanded, with deepening commitment from those early partners, and inspired by a grassroots push from members of the Delaware State Education Association. DSEA earned a National Education Association grant to form Compassionate Connections and to launch a three-year pilot program in five schools.

Compassionate Connections, again, involves all of the original Compassionate Schools partners, including Casey – and also:

  • Children and Families First,
  •  the Office of the Child Advocate,
  • the Parents Advisory Council for Education,
  • the Red Clay and Christina School Districts,
  • the Wilmington Advisory Council,
  • the Family Services Cabinet Council’s ACEs Subcommittee,
  • the ACLU,
  • the Rodel Foundation,
  • and the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and their Families – aka, Secretary Manning’s “Kids Department.”

In addition to that collaboration, many schools apply the new Opportunity Grants toward trauma-informed work. A shoutout, too, to Wilmington University, which now offers a certificate in Trauma Informed Approaches, as a complement to degrees in six different majors.

This isn’t touchy-feely stuff; as we now know, this is brain science and biology – with implications for every family, school, work place, and neighborhood.

Good things are happening, like the collaboration I am proud to introduce as our inaugural First Chance Program – our state task force on childhood hunger. I want to thank Charlotte McGarry, from the Food Bank of Delaware; Ray Fitzgerald, Director of Social Services at DHSS; and Aimee Beam, from the Department of Education – as well as the task force’s partners, which include:

  • the Harry K Foundation,
  • Secretary Bunting, superintendents, principals, and members of the Delaware School Nutrition Association,
  • the Department of Agriculture and Delaware farmers,
  • all of our Summer Food Service and after-school partners,
  • and the regional office of the USDA.

If we’re going to give kids a First Chance to succeed, what better place to start, than fighting childhood hunger.

It doesn’t take a lot of data to figure it out – have you ever been at your best when you were hungry? I’ve had the misfortune, on occasion, to be with our Governor when he’s hungry – it’s not something you want to see.

Our task force on childhood hunger has set specific goals to:

  • increase participation in school breakfast,
  • improve our effectiveness in serving summer meals,
  • expand opportunities for after-school meals and snacks,
  • and, with the help of the Harry K Foundation, to make sure that every school with a basic needs closet, also has a food pantry.

The goals of the task force are aggregate; not one for the Food Bank, one for DHSS, and one for DOE, not one for philanthropy and one for reimbursable programs.

We have shared goals – because we have shared goals, and a common interest in achieving them – again, whether you look at it from an economic, quality of life, or moral point of view.

In building a statewide culture of commitment to children – as we review budgets, policies, and programs – let’s ask what each of us can do, what each of our agencies, businesses, and funding sources can do, to break down silos in support of shared goals, to engage in creative, common-sense collaborations, to give kids a First Chance to succeed.

I am privileged to have the opportunity to invest the convening power and platform of the First Lady’s role toward the First Chance Initiative.

Delawareans can learn more about First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney’s “First Chance Delaware” initiative, and sign up to help, at