The Delaware Department of Education will work with area colleges and universities to develop an infant/toddler credential for early educators with the help of a new $500,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Secretary of Education Susan Bunting announced Dec. 11.

“We must take steps to help more Delaware children reach kindergarten ready to learn,” Gov. John Carney said. “This grant will help us support early learning professionals across our state — educators who are working with Delaware children every day. Ensuring our children are prepared to learn is critical to their future success and to our success as a state.”

The credential will establish specialized online coursework in infant and toddler development and learning in Delaware that will allow the credits earned to transfer into an associate degree program down the road, Bunting said.

Through the grant, early learning professionals who work directly with infants and toddlers will receive education focused on quality child-teacher interactions, exposing infants and toddlers to developmentally appropriate environments and creating learning experiences that enhance the whole child. Additionally, the grant will allow for the creation of three cohorts of students pursuing the infant/toddler credential throughout the state. Cohort members will be supported by a program manager/coach to facilitate monthly meetings and to provide them with on-site, individualized coaching.

Development of coursework and recruiting of cohort members will take place this spring for courses to begin in the fall.