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Partnership between Wilmington and state aims to help register kids for kindergarten

Delaware Public Media

Families in Wilmington preparing to send their kids to kindergarten may now find it a bit easier thanks to a new partnership between the state and its largest city.

The Department of Health and Social Services and the City of Wilmington have teamed up to open a satellite office of the state’s Vital Statistics office at the city's Northeast State Service Center, making it more convenient for city residents to obtain the birth certificate needed to register a child for kindergarten.

The pilot program is a response to concerns that city families had a difficult time obtaining birth certificates.  The closest place to get one in person before the new office opened Tuesday was at the Vital Statistics’ office in Newark.

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams (D) says that was a problem for many city families.

“A lot of folks in our city don’t have a lot of [access to] transportation and these folks will now be able to come her and get birth certificates," said Williams. "I think we should be a full service city.  I think this is the beginning because our city should have these things.  Our citizens need these things as much as anybody else.”

DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf says the state is committed to eliminating any barriers it can that families face to getting their kids ready for school.

“[This office] will help to support on time kindergarten enrollment of children in the city of Wilmington.  It will offer a convenient location for parents and guardians to purchase birth certificates and meet one of the requirements for their children to enter kindergarten,” said Landgraf.

State officials note that getting kids registered for kindergarten as early as possible helps them and their parents best prepare for that significant jump by allowing schools to communicate with them sooner and address any issues or needs before they arrive.

They also point to data that indicates that kindergartners that miss even just 10 percent of school days statistically perform worse in first grade.

The satellite office will be open every Tuesday and Thursday between now and October 27th from 9 am to 3 pm.

Birth certificates, which cost $25,  are also available online.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for nearly three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.