Policy Resource

Delaware Takes on the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

Nov 13, 2017

In December 2011, Delaware was awarded a four-year Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant and proposed the following targets to improve its early learning and development (ELD) systems.

Delaware proposed to:

  • Redesign its quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS). Shifting away from a building block system to a hybrid/combination system, programs would now enter by meeting initial threshold requirements and then would select indicators on which to earn Quality Points across four dimensions of practice. The state also recently adopted a tiered subsidy reimbursement for ELD programs participating in the QRIS to encourage participation. Programs at level five would be eligible to receive 100% of the market rate.
  • Hire additional clinicians for the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation program, which would double capacity so that all licensed programs would have access to consultation.
  • Create a coordinated technical assistance (TA) infrastructure with a TA Advisory Committee, STARS TA centers, and expansion of the STARS Plus pilot. STARS Plus is an intensified TA model that focuses on serving clusters of high need ELD programs in making quality improvement. RTT-ELC funding would allow 15 additional cohorts of 8-10 programs each to participate.

The funding for Delaware’s RTT-ELC ended December 2016, with the following key performance targets met or exceeded in its fifth year.

  • The number of early learning programs participating in the state’s quality rating and improvement system grew from 134 to 545, with 76% of the participating programs rated in the top-quality tiers.
  • More than 95% of the children with high needs (13,214) were served in programs participating in Delaware Stars in 2016.
  • The number of early learning professionals receiving T.E.A.C.H® Early Childhood Scholarships for working towards early childhood degrees or credentials is up to 185 in 2016.
  • The Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Service continued in Year Five, and will continue with state identified funds. More than 2,649 child-specific consultations were provided during the life of the grant.

Learn more about Delaware and how other states used their RTT-ELC funds to strengthen their early childhood systems in ZERO TO THREE’s papers: How Are Early Learning Challenge Grant Targeting Infants and Toddlers and The Early Learning Challenge Grant Is Helping States Better Serve Infants and Toddlers.

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