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State marks early childhood ed. milestone, as federal funding expires

Delaware Public Media

State lawmakers are celebrating a milestone in promoting early childhood education.

They awarded their 100th five-star rating -- the highest in the state's Delaware Stars early learning system -- to the Christina Early Education Center in Newark on Wednesday.

Gov. Jack Markell says that system covers covers 550 programs statewide -- a 300 percent bump from 2011, when the state invested $22 million into early childhood education.

That was alongside a four-year $50-million-dollar Race to the Top grant from the federal government.

"And as a result of all of this, we've been able to significantly increase the number of low-income students who have the opportunity to attend the highest-quality early childhood programs," Gov. Jack Markell told Delaware Public Media.

But that federal funding runs out this year. Still, Markell says early childhood education is worth prioritizing:

"We know this can make a difference for kids. There's a lot of research on the difference it can make," he says. "So I think this is a place … which will yield a lot of investment for the state in the years to come."

Markell says he'll look at ways to sustain support for the First State's programs in next year's budget.

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