Delaware’s childcare system is in crisis

January 11, 2022

American Association of University Women believes that high-quality public education is the foundation of a democratic society, and the key to improving economic prosperity and gender equality. We advocate for adequate and equitable funding for and access to quality public education, including early childhood education, for all students.

As president of AAUW Delaware, I am asking you to support the education and care of our first students, in the First State.

We believe making high-quality early care and education available from infancy to age 5 leads to all children prospering. The constant underfunding of Delaware’s childcare system has led to a lack of affordable care, limitations for families’ economic mobility, and children left unprepared for kindergarten. The Rodel Foundation reports the following data:

• 96 percent of providers in Delaware report staffing shortages 

• 50 percent of providers are turning away families and are unable to open classrooms 

• 39 percent of providers have longer wait lists than ever before – some hundreds of families long 

• 30 percent of families utilizing childcare subsidy are no longer benefitting from the program. 

Additionally, our state ranks 42nd in access to state-funded pre-K. When Head Start and district programs are included, we serve less than 15 percent of all 3- and 4-year-olds. Delawareans agree all families should have access to high-quality pre-K, and we need to increase the investment, especially to serve special education students in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act-compliant settings, and to serve low-income families. 

AAUW Delaware recognizes the urgent need for Gov. Carney and our legislators to include at least $40 million more in the Purchase of Care budget to reach the market rate benchmark of 75th percentile and $15 million for expanded access to pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, including a focus on low-income and special education students. Please join AAUW Delaware in our support of Delaware’s youngest learners by going to First State Pre-K at to have your voice heard.

Christine Gillean
President, AAUW Delaware
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