The Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood is dedicated to maximizing the healthy growth and development of Delaware’s children by supporting quality early care and educational programming for all children, their families and their communities. In partnership with both public and private stakeholders, the Institute works to create and sustain a responsive, data driven system for enhancing the professional knowledge and skills of those who work with children from birth through age twelve. We provide a framework and registry for linking Early Childhood Education professionals with professional development opportunities through instructional opportunities and individual’s technical supporting order to have a world-class early childhood programming. The Institute designs, delivers and coordinates professional development that meets the needs of a diverse workforce of 6,000 plus members working in a variety of early childhood settings from public school, early childhood special education, to the private business of home-based child care. Collaborating with Children and Families First, we manage the Delaware Stars program, a quality assurance and evaluation system. Lastly, we know that families and community resources are the foundation of any good program. So we also share information and resources designed to serve parents as well as community leaders.
The Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood (DIEEC) has been established at the University of Delaware. Dr. Martha Buell is the Director of the Institute. The Institute is guided by the Delaware Department of Education standards and the Early Childhood Professional Development Framework, in partnership with other educational and health organizations. Dr. Leslie Cooksy leads the evaluation of all Institute activities. DIEEC is housed within the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (Chairperson: Donald Unger, Ph.D.).
Throughout the process of researching cross sector early childhood professional development systems, there were many colleagues who helped the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood get started. Thank you to the following: Janet Carter, Jim Lesko, Verna Thompson and Kathy Wilson from the Delaware Department of Education; Elaine Archangelo and Barbara McCaffrey from the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Social Services; Patricia Quinn and Lynn Jezyk from the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, Office of Child Care Licensing; Darlene Hamilton, Region III Technical Assistance Specialist, National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center; and Sarah LeMoine, Director, Early Childhood Workforce Systems Initiative, National Association for the Education of Young Children. Thank you to the following states for sharing; Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
A competent early childhood workforce, supported and engaged families, and high quality early childhood programs are accessible to all Delaware children and youth. All of Delaware’s children will become successful adults, contributing members of our community, and participants in a global economy. Delaware’s early childhood system will be an effective collaboration of families, programs and services that support children as they grow, develop, and learn.
The mission of Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood is to support early childhood professionals through high quality, coordinated professional development experiences that enhance skills, knowledge and career opportunities and support high quality programs. The DIEEC joins Delaware’s Early Success (2006) in supporting the same mission: All of Delaware’s families will have access to early care and education programs that will offer families a safe learning environment to ensure positive outcomes for children. Early care and education programs will be staffed by professionals educated and skilled in supporting the growth, development and learning of young children. Programs will be regulated to ensure basic safeguards for children, both physical and developmental.
Goal 1: To provide a range of accessible professional development experiences.
Goal 2: To ensure that professional development opportunities are of the highest quality and are monitored to ensure that the content of training is research based and aligned with state standards for the field.
Goal 3: Build early childhood community capacity through technical assistance to support the development of other organizations and trainers to be partners in the Institute.
Goal 4: To provide a range of professional development curriculum and experiences that advances the early childhood professionals’ knowledge in core content and Early Learning Foundations areas.
Goal 5: Provide professional development so that early childhood programs can move to higher quality, as indicated by the Delaware Stars, 5 star quality rating and improvement system.
Goal 6: Coordinate a quality assured professional development system that follows the DOE Early childhood professional development framework of 4 levels.
Goal 7: Coordinate Delaware Stars.
Goal 8: Engage families in the development of the early childhood education system.
Goal 9: Provide early childhood demonstration sites for professionals to learn best practices.
Goal 10: Show improvement on core, quality indicators as well as child, family, & community outcomes.
Quality of Early Care and Education Programs in Delaware:
Research shows that high quality early care and education experiences are directly related to children performing better in school. Children from high quality early care and education programs score significantly better on language, early literacy and math skills than do children from lower quality programs. Indicators of quality early care and education programs generally include: A safe and healthy setting; developmentally appropriate activities and programming; trained, experienced, adequately compensated teachers (a recent study of the quality of Delaware early care and education programs revealed that 62% of the early care and education providers interviewed had less than an Associates Degree); continuing education and resources for teachers and care givers; and Opportunities for family engagement. (HJR 9 Task Force Report)
Observational data on preschoolers suggest that between 4 and 6 percent have serious emotional and behavioral disorders, and 16 to 30 percent pose on-going problems to classroom teachers. A 2002 survey of child care providers in Delaware revealed that 18.75% of the child care providers had asked a family to withdraw a child from their care based on the child’s social, emotional, or behavioral concerns (Gamel-McCormick, 2002). In general, the more chronic economic, social, and psychological stresses young children experience, the greater the likelihood of poor social, emotional, and cognitive outcomes. There is a shortage of programs that address the social and emotional wellness of young children, shortage of qualified mental health providers to serve young children, lack of awareness about existing resources, and there is a need to increase support for child care providers in the area of social and emotional wellness resources and education for young children.
Working to Achieve a Quality Early Care and Education System in Delaware:
In 1995 the Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC) was formed to promote high-quality, affordable early care and education services throughout Delaware. In 1997, the ECEC engaged state policymakers from the Family Services Cabinet Council as new partners, and eventually evolved into a steering committee to develop a coordinated system of early care and education. The steering committee contracted with Sharon Lynn Kagan, a national expert on developing a coordinated system of early care and education and author of Not by Chance: Creating An Early Care and Education System for America’s Children, to assist in the planning. Beginning in 1998 a series of focus groups were held throughout the state to gather recommendations to Delaware’s needs and resources. The steering committee met with the charge of developing a vision to ensure that services for young children and their families in Delaware are of high quality. The result of their work is Early Success: Creating a Quality Early Care and Education System of Delaware’s Children. The plan focuses on eight major domains including quality programs, professional development, family engagement, public will, program licensure, governance, financing, and results.
In 2000, the Delaware legislature authorized the establishment of the Delaware Early Care and Education Office (DECEO). The office was charged with coordinating the recommendation of Early Success by fostering an interagency approach to the delivery of quality early care and education services in Delaware. DECEO is an interagency office located in the Department of Education and is funded in collaboration by the Departments of Health and Social Services, Services for Children Youth and their Families, and Education.
In 2001, Governor Ruth Ann Minner endorsed Early Success by signing an Executive Order calling for the establishment of the Delaware Early Care and Education Council. The Council consists of members appointed by the Interagency Resource Management Committee (IRMC) and staffed by DECEO. The Council is charged with advising the IRMC annually regarding early care and education services in Delaware based on recommendation made in Early Success.
Initially Early Success did not focus on the need for a health and social-emotional domains. In 2001, a statewide steering committee came together to raise awareness of the need to address young children’s emotional wellness. Under sponsorship of the Department of Education, Department of Health and Social Services and the Office of Early Care and Education, the steering committee planned the Early Childhood Summit “Partnering to Promote Emotional Wellness in Young Children” on March 1, 2002. The Summit convened a planning committee to develop a research-driven, long range interagency plan to promote emotional wellness of Delaware’s young children birth to age five and their families. The plan, Partnering to Promote Emotional Wellness in Young Children: Delaware’s Framework for Action 2003, built upon Early Success and national policy work. The steering committee took a collaborative approach when creating the framework to ensure that its components were aligned with Early Success to build a comprehensive system for quality early care and education (Kagan & Rigby, 2002). The Framework outlined six major goals to ensure social and emotional wellness of young children and their families.
In 2003, the Delaware Early Learning Foundations for School Success were published (ERIC: ED 482 014). This provided a structure and guide for planning curriculum/instructional experiences to facilitate children’s development.
In 2004, Nemours Health and Prevention Services performed a review and assessment of children’s emotional and behavioral health strategies. The review included interviews with national experts and local stakeholders and a review of literature. In 2008, Nemours issued a report about improving children’s social and emotional health in Delaware.
In 2005, the Delaware Early Care and Education Baseline Quality Study found the level of quality in most child care programs in Delaware to be less than adequate.
The 144th General Assembly amended the Early Childhood Education program and established a quality rating and improvement program (Blevins, Sorenson, Connor, Maier, Schooley, Amick Copeland, Sokola, Hall-Long, Johnson, Kowalko, Lavelle, Marshall, McWilliams and Walls were the sponsors). (Senate Bill 222, Amending 3001, Title 14, Delaware Code (PDF 15K)). This established Delaware Stars for Early Success a public–private partnership by the Delaware Early Childhood Council, Delaware Business Roundtable, Family and Workplace Connection, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, Social Venture Partners Delaware, JP Morgan Chase, United Way of Delaware, early care and education programs, and the Departments of Education and Health and Social Services. Delaware Stars was intended to, among other things, “establish quality standards…ensure that the standards are based on research on best practice…provide professional development and technical assistance to assist programs in accomplishing targeted improvements.”
In 2008, there was a meeting for Vision 2015 at U of D which noted the needs of the early childhood workforce. The DOE awarded a grant to the UD to establish the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood (DIEEC) at the Center for Disabilities Studies. In 2009, the DIEEC found its current home in the Department of Human Development & Family Studies.
Parallel efforts have been underway in regard to supporting parents. The Parent Education Partnership (PEP) was formed in 1993 under the administration of Governor Carper’s Family Services Council to improve the access and quality of parent education and support services in the state. The PEP initiative had three components: Compiling the parent education and support inventory; conducting an assessment of the effectiveness of current parent education and support; and preparing recommendations for the framework of a comprehensive integrated delivery system. The PEP committee produced several reports starting in 1994 to 2000 making recommendations for improvements in the delivery of parent education and support services in Delaware.
In 1998, the Parent Education Partnership published an Inventory of Parent Education and Support Services in Delaware that showed 98 programs operated by 61 agencies and schools, primarily targeted to parents at-risk (Parent Education Partnership, 2000). The inventory of services divided parent education and support services into categories by level of intensity and type of service. At that time, Donald G. Unger, PhD. concluded that there was a fragmented, inadequate, difficult to access, poorly coordinated parent support service delivery system. It was recommended focus be directed to developing a coordinated system of quality parent education and support services for families with young children, rather than further study as to what was needed. “Recommendations for a coordinated, quality, continuum of parent education and support services have been made by numerous local scientific experts, service providers, parents and policy makers. The need for these services is documented repeatedly in advisory reports on infant mortality, teen pregnancy, family services, early care and education, and home visiting that are included in this report. There is no need to search for more answers. The research has been done; the recommendations have been made…They all recommend focusing more on service delivery systems for providing parent education and support, strengthening home visiting services, and for better monitoring and evaluation activities.” (Parent Education and Support for Families with Young Children in Delaware: 15 Years of Recommendations Waiting to be Implemented).
In 2000, the Home Visiting Advisory Committee was formed and comprised of public and private agencies, convened to identify the core competencies that would be needed in order to implement quality home visiting programs in Delaware. An evaluation framework was developed to be used to monitor the effectiveness and progress of home visiting programs (Unger & Brown, 2001). This was meant to address the face that there was no systematic, statewide system for program monitoring and evaluation or coordinated training system for home visitors or their supervisors (Unger & Brown, 2001).
The need for a more coordinated system was later echoed in the data collected from the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems grant through Public Health. Family focus groups were conducted and a report was written. Families expressed frustration over needing better access to information about types of services available and how to access them. In addition, they identified a need for parent education services that are family friendly (i.e. providing babysitting during parent educating opportunities) and culturally sensitive and appropriate. It was recommended that a single body should be established to coordinate a formal parent education and family support service delivery system of public and private efforts.
The Family Support Coordinating Council was subsequently formed, and subsumed the Home Visiting Advisory Council. The Family Support Coordinating Council serves as the subcommittee on families for the Delaware Early Childhood Council and Success by Six™, United Way of Delaware.
Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood
University of Delaware
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
College of Education and Human Development
111 Alison Hall West
Newark, DE 19716