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Help Delaware Families Access Child Care!

Help Delaware Families Access Child Care!  

 

Families with children cannot function without reliable child care. Yet families in Delaware today struggle to find available, high-quality, and affordable care. Instead they find long waitlists, closing child care centers, and blown schedules.  

Meanwhile, child care workers continue to earn minimum wages and lack health insurance. The local business and nonprofit communities have rallied around child care as a lever for economic growth. 

It’s time for Delaware to prioritize families and support the workforce. Tell legislators to make affordable, accessible child care a priority in the upcoming budget.  

 

Current State 

  • Long waitlists at centers (300+ in some cases), especially for infants
  • Staff shortages leading to closed classrooms (some centers operating at 50% capacity)
  • Most families ineligible for state assistance
  • State support rates are 40% lower in Sussex and Kent counties – and still below what it costs to provide the requirements of the state
  • Local employers facing shortages and lost productivity, in part due to lack of child care

 

FY 24 Budget Ask 

Department of Health and Social Services: Purchase of Care  

$40 million in state support to… 

  1. Meet the requirements set by the state: currently, state rates are below what the state requires programs to provide by 12-86% percent. The basic cost of care was established by the Department of Social Services Cost Estimation Model report issued March 1, 2022. 
  2. Pay a statewide rate (equivalent in all counties): Kent and Sussex County child care programs currently receive 40% less than those in New Castle County – while they face the same costs for staff and supplies. 
  3. Increase eligibility for families to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level to offset minimum wage increases and to keep up with regional neighbors including Maryland and New York, which set their rates at 300%. 
  4. Increase Purchase of Care rates for centers serving children with special education needs. Currently, centers serving special needs children receive no additional funds while some receive ~5% more. Other states fund significantly more. 

 

Department of Education: Workforce Supports and Special Education Pre-K 

  1. Invest in the workforce, which continues to make minimum wage. Provide $2,000 bonuses for early childhood educators next year (total $10 million).
  2. Decrease the child-to-adult ratio in special education pre-K to provide more services and to align with early childhood requirements and best practices ($4 million).
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