Delaware's approach to improving its early learning services and systems includes four goals and several strategies to support each goal:

Goal 1: Expand Comprehensive Screening & Follow Up for Young Children

Strategy 1: Engage health care providers to conduct more screenings
Strategy 2: Link more families to follow-up services
Strategy 3: Strengthen young child mental health services

Goal 2: Expand Number of Stars Programs and Children with High Needs in Stars

Strategy 1: Provide financial incentives for Stars programs serving high needs children
Strategy 2: Support programs moving through Stars
Strategy 3: Provide financial incentives for education and retention of Stars educators

Goal 3: Build Connections Between Early Learning and K-12 Schools

Strategy 1: Implement Early Learner Survey
Strategy 2: Create Early Learning Teams in high-needs communities to foster early childhood/K-12 links
Strategy 3: Link high school and college professional development for early learning educators

Goal 4: Sustain a Thriving Statewide Early Learning System

Strategy 1: Use data to inform quality improvement and sustainability
Strategy 2: Engage community leaders, including parents, as informed advocates for early learning
Strategy 3: Provide leadership for system development and sustainability

About Us

A focus of our office is building a system for early learning and child development services that will serve children with high needs, including those who are low-income, children with disabilities and dual language learners, in order to improve children's outcomes and readiness for school and for life.

Significant resources to support this work are being provided to the State of Delaware through the Early Learning Challenge, a competitive initiative of the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. The Office of Early Learning is leading and coordinating the initiative in which three state agencies (the Departments of Education, Health and Social Services and Services for Children, Youth and Their Families) are key partners.

To learn more, contact the Office of Early Learning at (302) 735-4295
Or email us: early.learning@doe.k12.de.us

The Office of Early Learning Staff
Susan Perry-Manning is Executive Director for the Delaware Office of Early Learning, Department of Education – working with public and private partners across Delaware to create, fund, coordinate and implement early learning services and policies to strengthen the critical role that families, early learning programs and schools, and communities play in a child’s life.

Prior to accepting the position with Office of Early Learning, Susan served as the founding Executive Director for the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, where she led efforts to build state and local public will, policy and investments to create a foundation of opportunity and success for every child by the end of third grade.

Susan has more than two decades of experience in early childhood issues and nonprofit management. Perry-Manning served as the Vice-President and Senior Director for Policy and Programs at The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), where she provided senior leadership to the organization.

During her tenure at NCPC, Ms. Perry-Manning conceptualized and authored a three-year, $3 million dollar early childhood obesity initiative for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of North Carolina; was part of core writing team that developed North Carolina’s winning $70 million dollar, four-year federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant application; created and secured more than $2 million in private and federal funds for an intensive leadership initiative.

She previously served as Deputy Executive Director at the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (now Child Care Aware of America), Deputy Director at Child Care Services Association, and Executive Director at the Durham Child Care Council.

In 2014, Susan was elected to a four-year term as Secretary of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Governing Board. She holds an MA in Early Childhood Education from Concordia University – St. Paul and a BA in Women’s Studies from Hamilton College.

To contact Susan please call 302-735-4295 or email early.learning@doe.k12.de.us
Christine Anderson is the Education Associate for Head Start, Family, and Health in the Delaware Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning. Prior to this role, Christine worked for the Office of Head Start’s Training and Technical Assistance Network, where she managed a team of early childhood education consultants across five states and the District of Columbia, including Delaware.

Christine has over 15 years of experience in the field of early childhood development, family engagement, and professional development, including the management of various quality enhancement grants and contracts servicing federal, state, and privately funded early child development programs.

A native of Delaware, Christine earned both her Master of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies and Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Community Services from the University of Delaware.

To contact Christine please call 302-735-4295 or email early.learning@doe.k12.de.us
Ariel Ford is the Education Associate for Quality Initiatives in Delaware Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning.

Before accepting the position with the Office of Early Learning, Ariel was the Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) Director for the Buncombe Partnership for Children in Asheville, NC for five years, where she supervised a team of trainers and technical assistance providers. This work was focused on improving the quality of child care through cross-agency collaboration; adoption of evidence-based practices; and shared outcome measures.

Ariel has more than 15 years’ experience in early learning – as a teacher, center director, and regional coach. She holds an M.A. in Early Childhood Education from East Tennessee State University, and a B.A in Theater and Literature.

To contact Ariel please call 302-735-4295 or email early.learning@doe.k12.de.us
Carmen Gallagher is the Education Associate for Quality Assurance in Delaware Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning.

Carmen has been a team member with the Delaware Department of Education for over five years, and currently oversees the Parents as Teachers program, Delaware First, Delaware Stars assessment and verification, and Early Childhood Assistance Program monitoring.

A native of Delaware, Carmen has over 15 years’ experience in early learning in the state. She started as a preschool teacher for a local early childhood program and moved into home visiting for the Parents as Teachers program. She then became the coordinator for Kent County Parents as Teachers prior to accepting an Education Associate position with the Department of Education.

Carmen holds a M.A in Special Education from Wilmington University, a M.A in Human Resource Management from Wilmington University, a B.A in Behavioral Science from Wilmington University, and an Associate’s in Early Childhood Education.

To contact Carmen please call 302-735-4295 or email early.learning@doe.k12.de.us
Jason Gardner is the Education Associate for Early Learning Incentives and Awards in the Delaware Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning. Jason started with the Office of Early Learning in 2013 working as the Finance and Administration Manager on the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. Before accepting the position with the Office of Early Learning, Jason came from the Department of Health and Social Services, where he managed the finance and accounting functions for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Jason has 13 years of working experience for the State of Delaware in which he has worked in various accounting, grants, contracting and analytical related positions. Jason received both his Bachelors of Science degree in Business Management and Master's degree in Business Administration from Wilmington University.

To contact Jason please call 302-735-4295 or email early.learning@doe.k12.de.us
Caitlin Gleason is the Education Associate for Alignment and Professional Development in Delaware Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning.

Previously, Caitlin was Teach For America-Delaware’s Early Childhood Education program manager and instructional coach, where she created and led professional development for cohorts of pre-K through 2nd grade teachers. Through this work and other her committee roles, including as a Center City Wilmington Readiness Team member, she has focused on how alignment between the systems serving children birth through age eight can meet the needs of the whole child.

Caitlin entered the early learning field teaching pre-K, K-1 and art in New Jersey and Delaware and has developed educator trainings for museums and non-profit organizations. She continues to enjoy working with students and families as a teaching artist for The Delaware Contemporary.

Caitlin holds a B.A. in Government from Smith College and M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Wilmington University.

To contact Caitlin please call 302-735-4295 or email early.learning@doe.k12.de.us
Jennifer L. Marsh is a Secretary for the Delaware Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning and provides support to various programs in the Office of Early Learning.

Previously Jennifer was the Administrative Specialist II for the compliance lab at the Delaware Department of Agriculture for 2 years. She handled the registration of commodity products for the State of Delaware. She also supported the laboratory manager and laboratory staff.

Jennifer has 9 plus years of administrative experience and over 5 years’ experience in early childhood as a head teacher. The majority of her time as an early childhood teacher was focused on working with children birth to 2 years. She is currently in the process of completing her degree in General Business from Delaware Technical Community College.

To contact Jennifer please call 302-735-4295 or email early.learning@doe.k12.de.us
Marcie A. Shahan is Administrative Secretary for the Delaware Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning and provides direct support to the Executive Director and other programs in the Office of Early Learning.

Before accepting the position with the Office of Early Learning, Marcie was the Administrative Assistant II to the Chief of Engineering and Operations and the Office Manager at the State of Delaware Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Facilities Management Office for five years, where she also supported 7 Construction Project Managers and 4 Building Support Systems Engineers.

Marcie was also previously employed at the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families (DSCYF) and has more than 10 years’ administrative experience. She is a Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) through the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), and is currently pursuing an Associate’s degree in General Business from Delaware Technical Community College.

To contact Marcie please call 302-735-4295 or email early.learning@doe.k12.de.us
Fiona KL Vivar grew up in New York City and earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary and Special Education from the City College of New York City. She received her Masters of Science in Early Childhood Special Education from Adelphi University in Long Island. As a Special Education Teacher, she taught in a skilled nursing facility and a school for children with special needs in New York City before moving to Delaware in 2000. Fiona was a Special Education Teacher in the Appoquinimink School District before becoming the Department of Education Liaison to Child Development Watch for New Castle County in the summer of 2012. Her position allows her to continue to work with and advocate for families and their children with special needs as well as collaborate with school districts and all other provider agencies throughout Delaware.

To contact Fiona please call 302-735-4295 or email early.learning@doe.k12.de.us
Contact Us


Office of Early Learning
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901
(302) 735-4295
early.learning@doe.k12.de.us


Office of Early Learning
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901
(302) 735-4295
early.learning@doe.k12.de.us