Study finds several barriers in childcare access for Delaware families, lawmakers weigh in


DELAWARE – “It costs more for some workers to send their kids to childcare than it does for them to not even work. They’re spending more than 100% of their paycheck on childcare a month,” Delaware Senator Brian Pettyjohn said.

Rising costs are just one barrier Delaware families face when accessing affordable childcare, according to a recent study from Rodel. Nearly 40% of families surveyed were on wait lists for two or more centers, with some wait times being more than 12 months.

State Senator Brian Pettyjohn says that could be due to the lack of labor. “Childcare now is way different than it was 30, 40, or 50 years ago when it was pretty much a babysitter. There’s actual training that has to happen for the individuals that do caregiving for these children,” Senator Pettyjohn said. “Part of the reason they don’t have employees is because of the amount they’re able to pay.”

The Delaware Department of Education says to attract talent, they’re looking to provide bonuses and other scholarship opportunities. They provided us with a statement that reads in part:

“We are working on a new structure for educational attainment awards as professionals move forward on their early care and education career trajectory. We are making progress to expand affordability, but the childcare market will continue to rely on families’ pay to provide care.” 

Delaware Governor John Carney’s recent budget recommendations look to address some of these issues which include investing more than $10 million in childcare programs statewide and raising the income limits of parents who can qualify. “That purchase of Care Rate Program helps people that aren’t able to afford childcare. Thats the assistance the state gives them in order for them to have childcare and be able to go out into the workforce,” Senator Pettyjohn said.

Expanding childcare access won’t just get some parents back to work, as Senator Petty John explains. “It really advances those students in the classroom so when they get into kindergarten, 1st grade, or 2nd grade, it builds are really strong foundation for them to accelerate their learning to be more successful students,” Senator Pettyjohn said.

The Delaware Department of Education tells us they’re making progress to expand affordability, but the market still relies on families’ pay to provide care.

Senator Brian Pettyjohn says the state’s market study of available providers also needs updating to reflect current childcare costs in each county. He says that update will allow more money to go to those care centers, providing them the opportunity to hire more staff and expand the services they offer.

DDE says currently only families eligible for social services provided through the state are receiving financial assistance for childcare.

Categories: Delaware, Education, Local News, Money