Guest post from Vivian Rapposelli, Secretary of the
Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families (DSCYF)
Last week, the Joint Finance Committee supported the Governor’s proposal in full. In their actions, the Governor and General Assembly have supported more than just a budget proposal. They supported kids and made a true investment into Delaware’s future.
The Governor’s proposal is multifaceted. First, it seeks to close the gap for centers that participate in the state’s child care subsidy program, known as “Purchase of Care.” Currently, the large majority of participating early care and education providers are reimbursed at a rate that is less than 65% of the market rate for similar childcare services. The unequal playing field can mean that centers serving children from low-income families can often be at a disadvantage in having the resources to build quality into their early care programs. To help address this disparity, the Governor’s proposal provides $9 million for an across the board increase in Purchase of Care rates to 65% of the market rate for all providers.
In addition, the Governor’s proposal provides another $13 million in higher reimbursement rates, grants, and technical assistance for providers who participate in “Stars,” a quality rating program encouraging providers to increase quality components, such as staff education and programming, within their centers. By making an investment in this program, we will encourage more centers to critically evaluate and enhance the quality of care that our children deserve.
In the Governor’s proposal, providers with Stars ratings of 3, 4, or 5 (on a 1 – 5 scale) will receive reimbursement rates of 80%, 90%, or 100% of the market rate, respectively. Participating centers will also receive technical assistance and grants to support them in achieving higher ratings.
Our children are our future – our responsibility; and investing in early childhood education is a critical component to the role we play in preparing them for success. Studies show that children receiving quality early care and education are less likely to be disruptive and much more likely to be successful as they enter Kindergarten and progress through their education. They are less likely to drop out and more likely to succeed in school, and ultimately contribute more to our community.
This was a collective effort by tireless children’s advocates, our dedicated provider community, partner agencies in State government, the Governor and the Joint Finance Committee.
We’re grateful for their clear commitment to Delaware’s youth.