The closing of Connecticut’s last legislative session left some very important business unfinished: the creation of a permanent, statewide Office of Early Childhood (OEC). After legislators failed to bring bipartisan legislation establishing such an Office to a vote, Governor Dannel P. Malloy used an Executive Order to create the Office on an interim basis. The permanent creation of the Office—which requires action by the legislature—is an essential step towards creating a comprehensive, coordinated system of programs and services that will provide for all of Connecticut’s children. Read on to learn why the OEC is necessary and what you can do to support it.
Why is the OEC so essential? Before the creation of the OEC, programs and services related to early childhood were isolated in a number of different state agencies and departments. Parents and child care providers alike found the system difficult to navigate. The OEC creates greater transparency for families and caregivers by bringing together programs previously housed in the Departments of Education, Public Health, Developmental Services, and Social Services and the Board of Regents. Because the OEC houses data, budgets, and policies related to early childhood in one place, it also has the power to coordinate improvements in services and programs serving young children. The OEC is ideally situated to create the comprehensive, transparent, streamlined system for early childhood care and education that Connecticut’s children need and deserve.
What has the OEC done so far? Under the leadership of Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, the OEC has already begun consolidating programs and services related to early childhood. The OEC now oversees efforts related to professional development, the state’s Head Start grant, and family support services. The OEC was also the lead agency in the State’s recent application for a federal Race to the Top grant. Already, the Office is shaping statewide conversations on how best to improve outcomes for children.
Why do we need legislation if the Office has already been created? Governor Malloy’s Executive Order created the office on an interim basis. The Office lacks permanence until it is written into statute.
What can I do to help? When the legislative session starts in 2014, the OEC needs to be a primary concern for lawmakers. Please take this opportunity to contact your legislator and share your hope that they will sign on to the Office of Early Childhood bill as soon as the session opens in 2014. We need the OEC to unify and streamline the fractured landscape of our state’s early childhood services. Please contact your representative today to ask them to make the establishment of the OEC a top priority for the next legislative session.