BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Chapter 41, Title 14, of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new section designated as Section 4118 to read as follows:
"Section 4118. Parents as Teachers Program.
(a) The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:
(1) The home environment and parental attitudes about the value of education can have a significant effect on a child's ability or desire to learn.
(2) A well-substantiated body of research on how children learn and grow clearly indicates that a child's most productive and influential years of learning occur before the age of five.
(3) Experts in child development generally agree that 50 percent of intelligence, and the great majority of language skills, are developed by age four, and that these, along with the establishment of curiosity and social skills, lay the foundation for all further learning.
(1) Failure in the early years to develop adequately in these areas has been shown to lead directly to under achievement and failure in the elementary grades and beyond.
(2) Most of the children headed for academic difficulty at age six and beyond are, by age three, already significantly behind their peers.
(1) The potential dropout often comes from a home in which
well-intentioned but untrained parents have not gained, or do not use effectively, their personal resources to adequately nurture in their child the intellectual and social skills required for success in the early grades.
(2) Parents are the first and most influential teachers in their child's life and a free developmental resource for their child.
(1) Neither public nor private institutions are systematically providing a meaningful number of Delaware parents with research-based, up-to-date instructions in giving their children the best possible beginning.
(1) Delaware's current Parent As Teachers Program was first initiated approximately 15 years ago by Joe Cobb, an elementary school principal and long-time Delaware educator, who recognized such in-home early education efforts as investments in our children's futures.
(2) The family is the proper and most influential first educational delivery system for the child.
(1) Evidence exists that a child's early experiences can significantly enhance or inhibit development and learning. It is both educationally sound and most cost-effective for schools to work cooperatively with the home during the crucial first years.
(1) High quality parenting can be one of this country's greatest national resources. It is a learned skill that can be improved for the benefit of the individual family and for our society.
(b) The Parents as Teachers Program is hereby established under the auspices of the State Board of Education and shall be coordinated through one or more local school boards. The State Board of Education shall establish programs to train parents as teachers. The program shall address the educational needs of targeted parents of children and shall contain the following elements:
(1) The use of individuals who are professionally trained in child development and parenting.
(2) The provision by participating school systems of instruction in child development and parenting, on a voluntary enrollment basis, to targeted parents of children from infancy through age three. The program shall be provided in homes and other appropriate community settings in a cost—effective, accessible and convenient manner.
(3) The program shall include all of the following:
(i) Timely and practical information and guidance on
development in language, cognitive and social skills.
(ii) Instruction in the effective use of community parenting resources, including developmental and medical screening and, as needed, early intervention for children through the first three years of life, contingent on the availability of resources and the level of voluntary parental participation.
(iii) Regular visits to the home of each participating parent, as part of that course of instruction by one or more of the qualified educators administering the course.
(iv) Services shall be focused and targeted, to the extent possible, to parents of at risk children.
(v)Coordination, where appropriate, with other programs in other State agencies, which serve this population.
(c) Each year as provided in the Annual Operating Budget, the Delaware State Board of Education shall solicit proposals and shall select participants for the program. The request for proposals shall require participants to demonstrate all of the following:
(1) Ability to provide training for the Parents as Teachers Program.
(2) Evidence of significant local support for the project from school system administrators and local school boards and local parent and children advocacy organizations.
(1) Evidence that services will be provided to a racially, culturally, geographically and economically diverse targeted population.
(d) The State Board of Education shall evaluate proposals to insure that the development of parenting skills provided by the program increases:
(1) Intellectual and language development.
(1) Knowledge level of child development and child rearing practices by parents.
(2) Positive feelings about the usefulness of the program.
(3) Positive attitudes toward the school system.
(e) The State Board of Education shall require applicants selected for the grant program, as condition for the receipt of grant proceeds, to participate in in-service training programs.
(f) The implementation of the Parents As Teachers Program shall be subject to specific annual appropriation in the Annual Appropriations Act."