Policy Resource

Delaware Takes on the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

Jan 9, 2016

Learn how Delaware is using the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant to improve its early learning and development systems.

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. The state 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.

As of 2013, Delaware has made the following progress towards its proposed ELD systems:

  • The state has rolled-out a revised QRIS. The first year revealed that child care providers serving very young children require specialized support to improve quality. To meet this need, Delaware is adding two Infant-Toddler Specialists to its QRIS technical assistance group.
  • The state is moving forward with the use of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) as the standard developmental screening instrument in child-serving programs. Early care and education, child welfare, and maternal and child health programs have agreed to use the tool. * Professional development providers were trained on appropriate use of the ASQ, and full implementation was expected by the end of 2013.
  • Additional Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) consultants were hired, doubling the capacity of the states ECMH consultation program. ECMH consultants provide child- and program- specific consultation and training to early childhood educators to help them effectively interact with young children and manage challenging behaviors.
  • Health Ambassadors and a new call center have been integrated into the states Help Me Grow program with the explicit goal of making more comprehensive referrals for families with young children, particularly into Part C.

Learn more about Delaware and how other states are using RTT-ELC funds to strengthen their early childhood systems in ZERO TO THREEs papers:

How Are Early Learning Challenge Grant Targeting Infants and Toddlers: http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/elc-it-article-for-baby-monitor.pdf

The Early Learning Challenge Grant Is Helping States Better Serve Infants and Toddlers: http://www.zerotothree.org/policy/docs/elc-grant-update.pdf

Updated January 2016

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