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New law expands special education funding for Delaware's youngest students

Gov. John Carney's Livestream

Increased funding for students in kindergarten through third grade eligible for basic special education services is now law in the state.

Before House Bill 86 passed, added funding for basic special education services were provided for eligible students in fourth through twelfth grades, but there was no additional funding for students in kindergarten through third grade.

State Rep. Kim Williams (Stanton/Newport) was the main sponsor of the legislation signed by Gov. Carney Friday to change that.

"We all know that early intervention is the key and resources are a must for our students to be successful, especially for our youngest learner," said Williams.

Carney says helping younger kids will provide longer term success.

"To get specific funding for children who need it the most in kindergarten through third grade, who need a little bit of extra help for the foundation of their academic careers, we know if we're able to get them early that they'll be more successful in the long term," said Carney.

State Senator Nicole Poore (D-New Castle) sponsored the legislation and says it will have long-term benefits for students, schools, and the state.

"Oftentimes, we can't see the attention that is needed for our young children and so to be able to have the opportunity to identify and hopefully get them off of an IEP in their middle school years that's progressive," said Poore. "That is progression in education and it is also a cost savings in the long run."

The change will cost the state over $23 million over the next three years.

School districts statewide are on the hook for over $7.5 million. 

In addition to the funding, the new law also requires that at least 20% of teachers at the K-3 building level must be certified in the area of special education. 

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.