• Delaware First: Educators (Birth - 8 Years of Age)

  • Child hand painting in classroom

  • Delaware First Online Application

    Quick links:

    The Delaware First Professional Development System for Early Care and Education and School-Age Programs, commonly referred to as Delaware First, supports early learning professionals by certifying them to become employed by an early childcare or school-age care center once they meet specific requirements related to age, work experience and education. The requirements are explained in detail in the Delacare: Regulations for Early Care and Education and School-Age Centers as established by the Office of Child Care Licensing in the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. Early learning professionals are encouraged to continue working and furthering their education in order to move to the next qualification level. Delaware First is administered by the Delaware Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning. 

    Process for Applying Online for Qualification*

    The following is the process for requesting a review of qualifications for either an Early Care & Education Certificate or a School Age Certificate via the online application:

    Step 1: Review PowerPoint Tutorial: Learn all about the Online Application, including how to apply, documentation to upload, printing certificates, etc.

    Step 2: Apply for an IMS Account – once established you will automatically receive the Delaware First application

    Step 3: After logging in to your newly established IMS account, click on the Delaware First icon.

    Step 4: Complete your Profile, Education, and Professional Development (PD) Training

    Step 5: Complete Experience - Print Verification of Experience form - Applicant signs, Administrator must verify and sign

    Step 6: Upload your documents (documents must be in .pdf format)

    Step 7: Apply for qualification certificate

    Step 8: Check the status of your qualifications application at any time

    Step 9: Print certificate once it has been issued

    Note:  *Online application and documentation will be required after August 1, 2019.

    Process for Applying Via U.S. Mail (hard copy) for Qualification*

    The following is the process for requesting a review of qualifications for an Early Care & Education Certificate or a School Age Certificate via U.S. mail:

    Step 1: Applicant reviews the qualification requirements needed for either an Early Care and Education or School-Age position.

    Step 2: Applicant completes the Early Care and Education Qualifications Application or School Age Application. Applicant signs and dates the bottom of the application.

    Step 3: Applicant collects all supporting documentation (copy of drivers license, professional development transcripts, official college transcripts, Verification of Experience forms, etc.) required for the position for which they are applying.

    Step 4: Applicant mails completed application and all documentation to: Delaware First, Department of Education, 401 Federal Street, Suite 2, Dover, DE 19901

    Note: *Paper Applications and Documentation will not be accepted after August 1, 2019. 

    Paper Applications Missing Information: Beginning January 1, 2019, all paper applications that are missing information will no longer be held for 60 days. These applications will be returned to the applicant with a letter stating what information is missing. The letter will provide the applicant the option to resubmit all required information via mail or apply and upload all required information through the new online system.

    Electronic applications with missing documentation will be denied. The applicant will have to upload the necessary missing information and reapply for the qualification.

    Paper Applications Phase Out: In order to process applications faster we are requesting that you apply online. Paper applications will be phased out over the next year, so we strongly encourage you to apply online.

    Proof of High School Graduation: In alignment with Office of Child Care Licensing regulations, Delaware First requires proof of high school graduation for all qualification certificates unless the applicant has a completed degree from a regionally accredited college or university.

    Qualification Requirements:

    Early Care and Education Qualifications

    School-Age Qualifications


    Early Care and Education Application

    School-Age Application

    Verification of Experience

    Request Copy of Certificate

    College Coursework:

    Early Care and Education


    College Transcripts:

    • All college transcripts, whether you are applying electronically or hard copy, must be official transcripts received directly from the college or university
    • Please mail official, sealed transcripts to: Delaware Department of Education, Attn: Delaware First, 401 Federal Street, Dover, DE 19901 OR Your college or university may email an electronic version of your official college transcript via a secure server to delawarefirst@doe.k12.de.us
    • The following link contains information about International Diplomas and Transcripts
Last Modified on May 20, 2019