New Castle and Kent Counties Successfully Compete for $1.6 Million to Continue Early Head Start, Grant Provides Funding as Previous Federal Grant Expires; Director Look to Dover Air Force Base for new Partnership Opportunities

WILMINGTON, DE – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded Northern Delaware Early Head Start $1.6 million in federal funds to continue services in New Castle and Kent Counties, Senator Tom Carper announced today. The competitive award provides the bulk of the organization’s yearly operating expenses, replacing a 1998 grant that expires this year. The grant is designed to empower families by providing parent education and family support as they move toward self-sufficiency. “Research shows that the period from birth to three years is crucial to a child’s development. Children without proper nutrition, healthy environments and positive interaction begin at a measurable disadvantage,” Carper said. “This funding will provide Delaware’s low- income families with needed support to ensure that first time parents and families are armed with the knowledge and resources to succeed. Early Head Start gives families the tools they need to become self sufficient.” Northern Delaware Early Head Start (NDEHS) promotes healthy development of children with disabilities and children of low-income families. NDEHS provides home visits, childcare, nutrition counseling and prenatal education to hundreds of families in New Castle and Kent Counties. Its primary clients are pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers up to age three. “The grant that originally funded this program expires this year and this money will allow us to continue offering services Delaware families need,” said Martha Buell, Director of Northern Delaware’s Early Head Start. “With the grant from this competitive process now awarded, future monies will be awarded as an ongoing grant with an indefinite funding period. We are now in a position to really focus on building infrastructure that will help support quality early care and education to the very youngest children and their families.” A $402,000 expansion grant awarded last September with Senator Carper’s help allowed NDEHS to expand their services to Kent County. With the inclusion of families in Kent County, Northern Delaware Early Head Start plans to change their name to one that it is reflective of all of the communities it now serves. “With the budget for next year now set, we are eager to forge new partnerships. I am personally interested in building linkages with some of the many fine early care and education programming offered in Kent county such as the program offered by Del-Tech and the programming at the Dover Air Force Base,” said Buell. “The system of early care and education offered by the military is really leading the nation in terms of quality.” “Many parents work two and three jobs, keeping them away from their families during the evenings. These funds ensure that Delaware families continue receiving the attention and support they need to flourish,” Carper said. “Head Start works with families to ensure that parenting skills are taught and community resources are explained. I applaud their commitment to helping children by helping families.” NDEHS currently serves 147 pregnant women, infants and toddlers through a variety of partnerships between the University of Delaware and several community agencies. The University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies coordinates activities between NDEHS and the agencies they partner with. “We truly appreciate the time and effort Senator Carper devotes to supporting early childhood programs and policies that support families and young children,” said Buell. “His efforts to strengthen the program and nurture our most vulnerable children are very much appreciated.”