WHEREAS, school readiness is named as the first of eight national education goals; and
WHEREAS, Delaware Business-Public Education Council's Gap Analysis lists a high-quality pre-kindergarten program for all disadvantaged four-year-olds as essential to the future of our State; and
WHEREAS, the Delaware Criminal Justice Council endorses early intervention services such as Head Start as one preventive long-term solution for juvenile delinquency; and
WHEREAS, Delaware 2000 Readiness for Success Commission has recommended increased early intervention for at-risk preschoolers; and
WHEREAS, The 137th General Assembly directed the Delaware Health Care Commission and the Interagency Resource Management Committee to study services to children, and they have found the best investments are prevention and early intervention; and
WHEREAS, 13 other states currently supplement Head Start programs; and
WHEREAS, Delaware receives over $5 million a year in federal funding to provide services for 3 to 5 year old children living in poverty and thereby maximizing the State's resources by building upon the existing Head Start resources.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE :
Section 1. Amend Title 14 of the Delaware Code by creating a new chapter, to be known as Chapter 30, which new chapter shall read as follows:
"Chapter 30. Early Childhood Education Program. §3001. State Early Childhood Education Program.
(a) The Department of Public Instruction shall be authorized to provide early childhood educational services to eligible children, which shall include preschool age children who live in poverty, using such funds as are appropriated by the General Assembly for that purpose.
(b) The Department of Public Instruction shall provide the early childhood educational services by contracting with private providers, including, but not limited to, providers administering Head Start programs within the State of Delaware, provided, however, that state funds paid to such contracting providers shall not be used to reduce expenditures from funds received by those providers from any other sources, or to make a Head Start provider ineligible for Head Start expansion grants.
(a) The Interagency Resource Management Committee ("IRMC") shall have administrative responsibility for all appropriations made to the Department of Public Instruction pursuant to this section. Such administrative responsibility shall include, but not be limited to:
(1) reviewing and recommending contracts to qualifying contracting providers to deliver early childhood educational services to preschool age children who live in poverty;
(1) reallocating unobligated or unspent appropriations made to the Department of Public Instruction pursuant to this section; and
(1) verifying that contracting providers use state funds paid to them for the purposes specified in their contracts.
§3002. Early Childhood Advisory Committee.
The Family Services Cabinet Council ("FSCC") shall establish an Early Childhood Advisory Committee composed of equal representation from the Department of Public Instruction, the Department of Health & Social Services, the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, the Governor's Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, the Interagency Resource Management Committee and private providers, including Head Start providers to assist in:
(1) recommending guidelines and evaluation procedures to be utilized by the Department of Public Instruction and the IRMC in awarding contracts for the provision of early childhood educational services to preschool age children who live in poverty, which guidelines and evaluation procedures shall be consistent with existing Head Start criteria; and
(2) advising the FSCC and IRMC of possible opportunities for improved interagency collaboration and/or gaps in the delivery of early childhood educational services to preschool age children who live in poverty.
§3003. Early Childhood Education Program Annual Report,
The IRMC shall make annual reports to the General Assembly and the FSCC regarding the State Early Childhood Education Program, which shall include:
(1) the number and percent of preschool age eligible for early childhood educational services contracting provider;
(2) the amount of state funds requested for expansion per contracting provider;
(3) the amount of state funds received for expansion per contracting provider;
(4) the amount of state funds expended provider; and
any other data reflecting the progress early childhood educational services to preschool live in poverty and its effectiveness that the pertinent." children who are by county and by continuation and continuation and per contracting
of expansion of age children who IRMC regards as