Vote Tracker

General Assembly Passes Developmental and Social-Emotion Screenings Bill

House Bill 202, sponsored by Rep. Kim Williams and Sen. Nicole Poore, would enact a recommendation of the Redding Consortium for Educational Equity by requiring childcare facilities to provide developmental and social-emotional screenings to children under the age of 5.  This bill passed the House by a vote of 37-3-1 and the Senate by a vote of 16-5.

By the age of 2, Black children are five times less likely to receive early intervention services than white children. For children of all races, developmental screening rates remain disappointingly low. Nationally, less than 40% of children receiving Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program assistance receive a developmental screening before the age of 3. 

House 202 SponsorsYes VoteNo Vote
K.Williams, Dorsey Walker, Baumbach, Brady, K.Johnson, Mitchell, OsienskiPassed House 37-3-1. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton  Briggs King D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman YearickVanderwende, Postles, Collins, Lynn (Absent)
Poore, Gay, Lockman, WalshPassed Senate 16-5. Bonini, Brown, Ennis. Gay, Hansen, Lockman, Lopez, Mantzavinos, Paradee, Pinkney, Poore, S. McBride, Sokola, Sturgeon, Townsend, WalshHocker, Lawson, Pettyjohn, Richardson, Wilson
Current Status — Sent to the Governor

“Our youngest learners often face barriers to their success before they ever reach school age,” Sen. Poore said. “By deploying early detection tools through our childcare centers, we can begin treating developmental delays much sooner and have supports in place well before children even begin their first day of kindergarten. This legislation will also help level the playing field when it comes to racial disparities that currently exist when it comes to early intervention services.” 

“Yearly developmental screening is a best practice that’s critical to identify children ages birth to five who may be eligible for early intervention or special education services. When eligible Delaware children have access to these services, we change the trajectory of their lives by increasing their chances for success in school and in life,” said Rep. Williams. “Children who are eligible and receive intervention as early in life as possible are more likely to read on grade level, graduate from high school, and be gainfully employed as adults, and they are less likely to need special education services later in school.” 

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

1 comment on “General Assembly Passes Developmental and Social-Emotion Screenings Bill

  1. Connie Merlet

    As a long time teacher and now director of a childcare center it is very important to me- this is my life career- that children are provided with the best care and best practices. As a member of the Provider Advisory Board, I also look at what is reasonable, practical and advisable for childcare centers and homes. Part of that is of course, what can be expected of and imposed on parents.
    First let’s be realistic about why parents put their children in outside-the-home care. To work. In thirty-seven years in childcare I have encountered maybe 5 families who sent their children to either of the centers I have worked in and who have not been working. Parents have to work. Children need a safe place to go. In the “old days” certain kids used to go to half day programs a couple of days a week- mother’s morning out, they were called. No one goes to daycare for 50 hours a week so moms can have some time off. And very few parents would put out $800-$1400 a month for that privilege. Parents are hard pressed to find care for their children in order for the family to survive financially. A great childcare is great, and in my humble opinion I must say providers want to offer the best care. Almost all of us started as teachers and we do this (for paltry wages) because we love kids and want the best for them. I have never yet met a provider whose attitude was “I don’t care.” That said of course, some find it very hard to give the kind of care they wish they could.
    Because we want to give good care we put up with a lot of rules and regulations imposed upon us which we know do nothing to either keep children safe or provide good care. Lots of unnecessary paperwork, practices that take time or money that could be used elsewhere. Our regulations change every year, and never to make our jobs easier. As a matter of fact, one of my long term staff said recently, “Remember when this used to be fun?”
    Yes, that’s what these changing regulations and restrictions have come down to. I wish I could say children’s lives are better, but I cannot do that. I’m not seeing it.
    Neither, by the way, are parent’s lives. I’m am so happy that I am the age I am. Life is so much harder now. Parents are so much more stressed. Schools are so much more demanding. What used to be first grade skills are now kindergarten skills and kindergarten skills… well, why can’t those 4 years olds just get that stuff? Development has not changed, but demand for higher levels of competence certainly have. In the United States. Children from other countries are not being asked to acquire these skills at the early ages kids here are. I won’t get into the reasons for these new demands on our kids, but will leave it at this– our kids don’t exit HS any higher than in other countries, and whoa, someone is making a BOATLOAD of money on these changes.
    Back to HB202-
    On the surface, it looks good. Let’s get children tested, let’s get to them before kindergarten. But what is happening right now in childcare? Gee, let’s look. Delacare Regulations for ECE Centers Part III Item 42-
    42.Documenting Children’s Progress
    A. A licensee shall follow an organized system for documenting the annual progress of each child preschool-age and younger in relation to appropriate developmental and educational goals. 1. The information gathered to document a child’s progress must be kept in the child’s file and shared with the parent/guardian at an annual conference. 2. With the parent/guardian’s permission, information may also be shared with other professionals when referring the child for special services.
    B. A licensee shall ensure that individual plans are developed for each infant and toddler in care within 45 days of the first day of attendance and are approved by the early childhood administrator or early childhood curriculum coordinator.1. A licensee shall ensure the plan includes both age and developmentally appropriate goals and describe specific activities and experiences to be provided by staff members in support of these goals. 2. Staff members must record these and note developmental milestones, accomplishments, and concerns.3. Plans must be reviewed and updated at least three times a year. 4. This information must be shared with the child’s parent/guardian.

    HB202 says-
    “when applying for a license or upon renewal of a license, an applicant must ensure that all children age birth to 5 years old not yet in kindergarten, who have been enrolled by a licensee seeking renewal or to be enrolled, will undergo developmental and social emotional screening using the Department’s approved developmental and social emotional screening system by requiring the parent or guardian of an enrolled child to complete the Department’s approved developmental and social emotional screening at the time the child is enrolled and at least one time per year during enrollment. If an enrolled child’s parent or guardian fails to conduct the yearly developmental and social emotional screening, the child care provider must conduct the screening.”

    Child care facilities are already screening children and sharing this information with parents. Instead of putting something in place to ensure children are getting the help they may need, this bill went about 6 steps further and said parents MUST complete the state of Delaware’s (online) screening IN ORDER TO ENROLL IN CHILDCARE. In order to get care for their child in order to work.
    And if they don’t do it or refuse to do it, the childcare must do it!
    Against parent’s wishes??
    Try running a business and going directly against parents wishes.
    This law doesn’t allow for exceptions- not for parents who bring their children to a Delaware center but live out of state (I currently have six children who come from MD or PA), not for parents who intend on sending their children to private school, not for parents who know their children have no developmental delays, not for parents who are planning on homeschooling, not for parents who want to just opt out, because they just want to opt out. This is the government requiring providers to force parents to sign a paper saying they will use an online state evaluation- test- which will be held in a state site and monitored through the child’s life, in order to send their child to daycare, and if they refuse the government is requiring the childcare facility to perform the evaluation against the parent’s will.
    Think of it this way. A few years ago we had a big concern about the state telling childcare facilities what they could and could not serve children out of the lunches that parents sent from home. They were telling us that we should take certain unhealthy foods out of their lunches and have food on hand to replace it.
    Providers were upset about this on several levels, but the deciding factor was the GOVERNMENT mandate. I, as a private center, can say to my parents “don’t send this or that. I am not serving junk food to children.” The GOVERNMENT cannot do that. The government cannot interfere in parental rights. Parents have a right to a certain degree of autonomy or privacy. If parents did not like my rule, they could go elsewhere. If government makes that rule, parents have no options. It’s a law, and that is government overreach.
    That was deemed unconstitutional.

    My enrollment packet for parents to complete is 18 pages long. The Parent Handbook is 24 pages. Our regulations in childcare used to be changed once every 5 years. Now comprehensive changes and new more difficult and costly regulations are coming every single year. Another bill this year increased the penalties for violations from $100 to $1000, in spite of the fact that OCCL says no one has ever been fined and there seems to be confusion about what actually are the violations they are talking about in the bill. In all there seem to be about 6 bills this year related to childcare. But there may be more; that’s all that I could find. Legislators seem to think that childcare, which is ultimately daycare so that parents can work, is the answer to all of society’s problems. If that is true, why don’t they pay for it? Make it a public system.
    Oh no, I’ve been told countless times, they’re not going to do that! Way easier to pass these bills and let the blame fall on a private system which is overserved and underpaid.

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