Preparing Our Youngest Learners by Investing in Our Workforce
By: Delaware Governor, Jack Markell
Ensuring Delaware children start school ready to learn is vital to their lifelong prosperity. It’s why we’ve invested heavily in strengthening our early learning programs, as well as supports for new mothers. But those investments will only pay off if we train a high quality workforce to meet these needs.
So, this past week, I recognized more than 200 early childhood professionals who this year participated in the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood program to improve upon their own education. They’ve earned advanced degrees and credentials at our colleges and universities, while gaining more knowledge and skills to use in the classroom. The T.E.A.C.H. program shows the incredible dedication of so many members of our early learning workforce – Delawareans like Krysta Thomas, a teacher and now Assistant Director at Expanding Our Kid’s World in Smyrna. She earned an Associate’s Degree in Early Education and is now pursuing her Bachelor’s. Many of our T.E.A.C.H scholars have gone back to school despite having full-time jobs and families of their own to care for. Historically, we have not valued people like Krysta enough given their critical role in children’s lives, and that’s changing with this program. More than half of T.E.A.C.H. scholarships recipients are the first family member to attend college. And their employers provide a bonus or raise to scholars when they complete their coursework.
We’ve made great progress in increasing access to early childhood services in Delaware. The number of low-income children in highly rated early learning programs has increased from five to 58 percent in just a few years. More than 28,000 young children have received developmental screenings, and we’ve reduced behavioral challenges with better mental health services. These accomplishments are only possible because of talented people serving our youngest learners. By continuing to better support them, we’ll keep Delaware moving forward.You Tube