Why Pre-K Matters

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Pre-K is important for Delaware’s:

  • Children: pre-K helps children succeed in school and later in life—by improving school readiness and reading levels—and reducing special education and health care costs.
  • Families: pre-K access improves parental workforce and education participation.
  • Economy: research shows that for every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education, society gains up to $10 in economic returns over the long-term.
  • Equity: all kids deserve the best start in life, but geographical barriers and affordability concerns make access difficult for many families.
Delaware needs to improve:
Access:
  • Less than 5% of Delaware’s three- and four-year-olds have access to state funded pre-K, and there are waiting lists at all locations.
  • Delaware ranks 41st among all states in this area.
Quality: Delaware’s pre-K is not a full-day program and teachers are not required to be certified.

The agreement set in the education funding lawsuit would allow Delaware to
wait until 2023-24 to increase this investment (from $6 million to $12 million)
and still only reach less than 10% of all four-year-olds in a part-day program
without certified teachers—leaving us in the bottom third of states.


Investments in Community-Based Child Care Providers: Child care providers need support, particularly investments to help the teachers attain certification and be paid a living wage. Child care professionals earn just over $10 per hour on average.

Ask Joint Finance Committee members to increase state investments in pre-K by $15 million in FY22 to support the workforce to attain higher qualifications and to expand access to high-quality, mixed-delivery pre-k.

  • $15 million/year for each of the next 10 years would enable access for all families who would choose to enroll their four-year-olds.
    • Full-day kindergarten was implemented in Delaware in a similar fashion.
  • A strong child care industry is essential to a strong mixed-delivery pre-K program; we encourage members of JFC to continue to ALSO increase Purchase of Care investments.

First State Pre-K is a non-partisan issue campaign to ensure every three and four-year-old in Delaware has access to a high-quality pre-kindergarten program—and families can more easily afford these services for their children.
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