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Help Delaware Families Access Child Care!

 
Help Delaware Families Access Child Care!  

Last year, Governor John Carney and the General Assembly stepped up and invested over $20 million in Purchase of Care (POC) subsidies, pre-K, and special education pre-K!   

  • Starting July 1, 2025, the Governor’s Recommended Budget includes an additional $10 million in investments that will:  
    • increase access to pre-K for 200 more children and fund per-child rates at the 2021 cost of care estimates; with this increase, pre-k serves about three percent of children under age five, in school day /school year programs  
    • increase eligibility to families within 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (about a $60,000 annual income for a family of four), expanding access to subsidized care for over 600 new children 
  • The Governor and Department of Health and Social Services announced additional initiatives in March that will  
    • cap family co-pays at 7 percent of family income and remove all co-pays for families under 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($45,000 annually for a family of four). This will eliminate co-pays for about 75 percent of families currently served by Purchase of Care  
    • increase compensated absent days from five to 10 days per month, providing child care centers with additional stability and predictability in their budgets to cover staffing and other costs when children are sick or absent 

 

We thank the governor and General Assembly for these investments—progress is being made, and there are still significant child care needs today in Delaware:  

  • Too few families are served in public programs: Only 16 percent of children under age five are served in publicly funded child care (about two percent in pre-K, 10 percent through POC; one percent in special ed and three percent in Head Start). 
  • Many vulnerable families cannot afford care: Delaware serves families below 135-200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (which is below $60,000 for a family of four), while our neighboring states and most other states serve many more families by extending eligibility to 250 percent of FPL and beyond. 
  • Lack of access is holding back our economy: Most (97 percent) Delaware parents say they would increase their hours at work, take a job, start a business, or go back to school if they could find affordable child care. Delaware employers have called on policymakers to take action to increase child care access, noting limited productivity and growth due to workforce shortages. 
  • Child care providers continue to operate with limited openings due to low rates of reimbursement and staffing shortages.  State reimbursement rates for POC reflect 2021 market rates, which are out of date and do not cover the cost of care or the cost of quality. These already-low rates are 30 percent lower in Kent and Sussex counties despite equivalent costs. Low rates contribute to significant challenges for compensating and retaining staff. 

 

Contact Gov. Carney and your legislator through this message to say:  

Thank you, Gov. Carney and members of the General Assembly, for investing in early care and education for young children in Delaware!  Please continue to make this a priority in the budget and build on the investments you have made by including funding in your budget to expand access to serve more families and increase the value of the services provided: 

  • Increasing per-child Purchase of Care rates so programs can open more classrooms and increase staff pay and benefits  
  • Expanding eligibility for both state funded pre-k (ECAP ) and child care (Purchase of Care) to serve families up to at least 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (making about 5,000 more eligible) 
  • Pay a statewide rate, increase rates in all counties to match the New Castle County Rate to ensure all providers are able to meet the needs of children.  
  • Increasing special education rates to cover costs of supporting children’s needs 
  • Pay providers based on enrollment to help providers cover fixed costs including staff, whether children attend or not—and it helps stabilize their finances when children are sick or families are away. Thirty-six states already pay based on enrollment.

 

 

 

 

 

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