Written on: May 27th, 2011 in Helping Our Neighbors
We are very saddened by the devastation caused by the tornadoes in Missouri, Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. I hope your thoughts and your prayers are with our fellow Americans. Please consider donating to the American Red Cross or giving blood.
I also hope you will take a moment to read the message below from the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security on how to prepare for tornadoes. If you don’t have an emergency kit and an emergency plan – this is a great weekend to get prepared.
Emergency Preparedness Tips for Tornadoes
And Other Weather Emergencies
Tornadoes can appear suddenly and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up and propelled away from the funnel or a funnel cloud appears. Planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival.
Be prepared to act quickly. Keep in mind that while tornadoes are more common in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest, they can occur in any state and at any time of the year, making advance preparation vitally important.
There are three important steps all families must take to prepare for an emergency.
First, get an emergency kit that includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries and store it in your shelter. Also include copies of personal identification, insurance papers, homeowner related paperwork and documentation of your furnishings, preferably electronically stored on a disk or card. Strongly consider downloading a weather warning application to your cell phone and the purchase of a weather radio for your home.
Second, make a family emergency plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what actions you will take in the event of an emergency. Identify several locations where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning:
Third, familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a tornado hazard.
For additional information visit the DEMA web site at http://dema.delaware.gov/services/disaster_prep.shtml
Guest post from Vivian Rapposelli, Secretary of the
Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families (DSCYF)
Last week, the Joint Finance Committee supported the Governor’s proposal in full. In their actions, the Governor and General Assembly have supported more than just a budget proposal. They supported kids and made a true investment into Delaware’s future.
The Governor’s proposal is multifaceted. First, it seeks to close the gap for centers that participate in the state’s child care subsidy program, known as “Purchase of Care.” Currently, the large majority of participating early care and education providers are reimbursed at a rate that is less than 65% of the market rate for similar childcare services. The unequal playing field can mean that centers serving children from low-income families can often be at a disadvantage in having the resources to build quality into their early care programs. To help address this disparity, the Governor’s proposal provides $9 million for an across the board increase in Purchase of Care rates to 65% of the market rate for all providers.
In addition, the Governor’s proposal provides another $13 million in higher reimbursement rates, grants, and technical assistance for providers who participate in “Stars,” a quality rating program encouraging providers to increase quality components, such as staff education and programming, within their centers. By making an investment in this program, we will encourage more centers to critically evaluate and enhance the quality of care that our children deserve.
In the Governor’s proposal, providers with Stars ratings of 3, 4, or 5 (on a 1 – 5 scale) will receive reimbursement rates of 80%, 90%, or 100% of the market rate, respectively. Participating centers will also receive technical assistance and grants to support them in achieving higher ratings.
Our children are our future – our responsibility; and investing in early childhood education is a critical component to the role we play in preparing them for success. Studies show that children receiving quality early care and education are less likely to be disruptive and much more likely to be successful as they enter Kindergarten and progress through their education. They are less likely to drop out and more likely to succeed in school, and ultimately contribute more to our community.
This was a collective effort by tireless children’s advocates, our dedicated provider community, partner agencies in State government, the Governor and the Joint Finance Committee.
We’re grateful for their clear commitment to Delaware’s youth.
As we keep our focus on putting Delawareans to work and improving our state’s future, we’re working to provide tools that can enable individuals to improve financial responsibility and save up for college, to buy a new home or achieve other financial goals.
I’m particularly excited about a new effort called $tand By Me DE—the Delaware Financial Empowerment partnership. This brings together state employees, the United Way, major banks, non-profits—dozens of groups who are volunteering their time, resources and talents to make a real difference in our community.
(Interested in joining with us to volunteer?)
Here are some of the services offered through $tand By MeTM available to all Delawareans:
We’ve been hearing some tremendously positive feedback about $tand By MeTM.
One participant told us: “This is exactly what I need—a place that does not tell me what I have to do, but lets me tell the coach what I want to work on and what I think I need to do first. It’s great to have someone to listen to my concerns and help me sort out what I can do next.”
At the $tand By MeTM website, you can set up a meeting with a coach, find a wide assortment of resources designed to help manage your finances, or volunteer to help grow the program. Initially, sessions will be held at the first $tand By MeTM Financial Empowerment Center in the Hudson State Service Center in Newark, with these efforts later spreading to public agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations around the state—free help will not be far away.
Financial literacy and responsibility are keys to economic growth and personal stability, and we hope you’ll take advantage of the resources that $tand By MeTM has to offer.
Visit standbyme.org to learn how they help you or sign up to volunteer!
As the Director of the Delaware State Housing Authority, the question I get asked the most is, “Is now a good time to buy a home?”
The second question is almost always, “Where do I start?” That’s why Delaware State Housing Authority and The Money School are having a free Homebuyer Fair this Saturday, May 14, at the Christiana Hilton from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The answer to the first question is, “Yes!” Mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows, and there is a large inventory of affordably priced houses on the market. The answer to the second question is to come to the Homebuyer Fair this Saturday, and we’ll show you how to get started.
Making sensible decisions is the key to a successful home buying experience. Before you purchase a home, come talk to the experts at the Homebuyer Fair about the importance of credit; budgeting & finance; strategies for finding and negotiating on properties; and the value of a home inspection. Lenders and Realtors will also be there to explain affordable mortgage options and the downpayment/closing cost assistance that’s available. Housing counselors will also be on hand to walk you through the home buying process from beginning to end.
So join us this Saturday at the Christiana Hilton. There will be 40 vendors and exhibitors, free food, give-aways, prizes, and TOM-FM will be broadcasting live from 9 to Noon. Senator Tom Carper and Senator Chris Coons will also be stopping by to talk to people about the benefits of homeownership in Delaware.
To learn more about the Homebuyer Fair, visit our website at www.DeStateHousing.com. Pre-registration is recommended (but not required) by calling toll free 877-307-6858 or visit www.DelawareMoneySchool.com. Walk-ins are also welcome.
Hope to see you there!
Anas Ben Addi, Director
Delaware State Housing Authority
Written on: May 5th, 2011 in Effective & Efficient Government
Just like families at kitchen tables across Delaware, our state has had to make tough choices to keep our budget balanced. We’ve made clear what matters most: getting families back to work and ensuring kids have a better shot at success.
Because our economy has shown signs of recovery, we have seen increases in some sources of state revenue.
This week, we proposed a three-part jobs proposal called Building Delaware’s Future Now that views those funds as a one-time chance to invest responsibly in our state’s core priorities of increasing jobs, opportunity and education.
We propose putting people directly to work rebuilding some of Delaware’s eroding assets. The Building Delaware’s Future Fund will also give us a better chance to attract new employers and support major expansions by existing employers.
We also propose taking this opportunity to strengthen our state’s core employers – small business, finance and manufacturing – through responsible tax reductions.
Education is critical to improving our economic future.
With so much already invested in improving our K-12 public schools, the plan targets investments to improve early childhood education to make sure our next generation enters school ready to succeed.
To help provide new jobs skills for those who have completed their K-12 education, we are also proposing investments to expand research and job training facilities at our three major institutions of higher learning. These projects will also put Delawareans to work building the facilities.
This commitment would help keep our workforce competitive in an increasingly global economy.
To learn more about the plan and tell us what you think, please visit www.governor.delaware.gov/jobsplan.