Markell announces more money for top pre-K programs

By Ruth Bryna 10:17pm, February 28, 2014 - Updated 10:09am, March 1, 2014
Gov. Markell delivers his weekly address. (Photo courtesy of YouTube.)
Governor Markell says disadvantaged kids in Delaware need better access to early childhood programs.

Speaking Friday at St. Michael’s School and Nursery Friday in Wilmington, the governor announced early childhood-education programs in Delaware will now receive more Federal grant money, but only if they meet certain benchmarks.

"This funding comes with more accountability. To earn top ratings, programs will be asked to meet more specific criteria - like a high level of staff training. We’ve heard from providers about the resources they need to meet high standards, so we’re increasing the assistance that’s most helpful.

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VIDEO: Gov. Markell's weekly address:

Programs that receive a rating of four or five stars will receive higher reimbursements for the cost of serving kids, Markell said. The programs will also receive additional funds for the increased staff necessary to work with infants.

The governor stressed the timing of exposure to a high-quality education is crucial.

"We can’t wait for kindergarten to start preparing our children for success. Ninety percent of their brain development happens by age five and quality early care results in better educated, healthier, and more productive adults. That’s why we’ve made access to high quality early childhood programs a top priority," Markell said.

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The governor says these kinds of investments are paying off. More than 2,000 low-income Delaware children attended a high-quality early childhood program in 2013, for an increase of more than 50 percent.

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