Early childhood learning funding cuts target STARS technical assistance
Delaware’s Office of Early Learning won’t receive as much funding as anticipated this year.
The P20 Council - which is tasked with aligning Delaware’s education efforts across all grade levels - heard what that means for specific programs at its meeting last week.
Gov. Jack Markell asked lawmakers for 11.4 million dollars for early childhood education. He got only 9.4 million.
Office of Early Learning executive director Susan Perry-Manning says that means her department is faced with tough choices regarding which programs to continue funding.
She says the department will try to minimize direct cuts to children and young families and instead look at cutting some of the infrastructure that supports higher quality.
"For example, our STARS technical assistance will be a place we’ll probably cut, we’ll probably need to cut some of our scholarship dollars for teachers, those are probably some of the primary places we’re looking," Perry-Manning said.
Nearly $6 million is going into tiered reimbursement programs, helping families at the 200% or below federal poverty level pay for childcare.
Perry-Manning adds a new study about the early childhood learning workforce - the workforce caring for children in group settings from birth to age five - is coming this fall.
"What their levels of education are, what their current compensation are," Perry-Manning said. "Because we know nationally that about 40% of all childhood educators use some form of public assistance to offset their income."
She says that right now pay for early childhood educators simply doesn’t reflect the work they’re expected to do.
“90% of the physical brain develops by age five and that what’s happening with young children sets the stage for all future learning," Perry-Manning said. "So we want to make sure that the teachers working with young children have the absolute best education and training that they can.”
Perry-Manning says funding is available to meet continued demand for on-site support for children experiencing trauma early in their lives, that often manifests itself through poor classroom behavior.
Currently, the state employs 11 early childhood mental health consultants to contract on a case-by-base basis among the 1,200 licensed early learning programs that could request their services.