A new digital and uniform process to register children for kindergarten in the First State was unveiled to an audience of 25 Tuesday at the Wilmington Public Library.
“Having a consistent process throughout Delaware allows libraries and other agencies to provide quick support and assistance to parents who are registering their children for school for the very first time,” said Dr. Cora Scott, deputy secretary at the state’s Department of Education.
She pointed out that the digital access in Delaware, and across the country, has increased since the pandemic began.
“Many school systems now have a one-to-one ratio of students to devices, and families are given computers through different federal and state programs,” she said. “The system also works on mobile phones, and we’ve discovered that a lot of families actually do have access to the mobile option, even if they don’t have computer access.”
Where the registration change originated
The change was spurred by a new law passed last year by the legislature. It aims to solve the problem many parents had complained about. Prior to this, parents usually had to go into schools and fill out a stack of paper to register a child. If they had more than one child, it meant multiple trips to multiple schools.
All forms and documentation regarding kindergarten registration will be available online, 24/7, in both English and Spanish, with more languages possible in the future.
The system also makes it easy for parents to transfer their children or register more than once because it autosaves all the personal information entered.
While kindergarten registration doesn’t open until November, First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney and the Delaware Readiness Teams made three stops throughout the state Monday and Tuesday to demonstrate how it will look.
The portal was officially launched Oct. 1, and the Department of Education is already making tweaks here and there, Carney said.
For example, the portal does not allow a residential address input to be a homeless shelter, Carney said, so the Education Department is working to find ways for homeless students to register next month.
Diane Frentzel, the program manager at Delaware Readiness Teams, said parents used to face the challenge of navigating through a thick packet of paperwork to register their children.
Additionally, Frentzel noted that many parents can’t readily take off from work to travel to their son or daughter’s school to register in person, so this new process increases accessibility and eases the burden placed on parents.
“This is going to be much easier for families to use,” Frentzel said. “There’s very few steps to register and it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes of a parent’s time.”
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To register, a parent needs to click here, click “Register for Public School,” create an account, enter the registration information, and their child will be set.
There is also an option to upload photographed or scanned documents that are required such as a child’s original birth certificate, proof of residency and proof of a physical exam.
“Uniform public school registration is exactly the type of systemic innovation that makes education simpler and more accessible for families,” said Laurisa Schutt, executive director of First State Educate, a local education advocacy group. “Transparent, pragmatic, bi-lingual, streamlined data means we can focus on what matters most, which is learning.”
She added that streamlining the system is “common sense” but took years to get done.
Camelia Vivero, on behalf of Delaware Readiness Teams’ Kindergarten Academy, taught a sample lesson plan to the few soon-to-be kindergartners in attendance.
“Today is a very important day for families with little ones in Delaware,” Vivero said. “As we look to address some of the inequities in education, it’s important to have an abundance of accessibility to resources.”
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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