News to celebrate: Connecticut legislature passes several pieces of essential early childhood legislation

This weekend, parents, providers, and advocates across Connecticut celebrated the news that the Connecticut legislature approved several important early childhood measures. The legislature voted to establish the Office of Early Childhood and invest in preschool expansion. Additionally, the legislature arrived at a budget agreement that supports investments in quality and access to early care and education programs. Together, these measures move our state closer to a system of coordinated early care and education that will provide for all of Connecticut’s young children.

At a press conference convened by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance yesterday, Governor Malloy and State Senator Beth Bye congratulated advocates for their work in bringing early childhood issues to the center of conversations about our state’s future. “It didn’t come fast, it didn’t come easy,” Senator Beth Bye stated. “But we’re going to have a comprehensive plan to get every child in Connecticut high quality preschool and that is a huge accomplishment.”

The following measures now move to the Governor’s office for final approval:

  • Connecticut Voices Senior Policy Fellow Cyd Oppenheimer speaks to a reporter at the Capitol

    Connecticut Voices Senior Policy Fellow Cyd Oppenheimer speaks to a reporter at the Capitol

    The creation of the Office of Early Childhood in statute. The Office of Early Childhood is a new agency that is designed to streamline and improve our state’s early childhood systems. Right now the Office exists, but it operates only through Executive Order.  If approved by the Governor, programs like Care4Kids, child care program licensing, Connecticut Charts-A-Course, and other programs related to early childhood all will be run out of one agency with a focus on and expertise in early childhood.

  • An increase in School Readiness rates and expansion of School Readiness to allow for the creation of over 4,000 new subsidized spaces in the next 4 years, as proposed by the Governor.
  • The Smart Start initiative, which will provide funding to select school districts to add preschool spaces in the public schools. This grant program will be designed and administered by the Office of Early Childhood. Priority will be given to preschool programs that will serve low-income children.
  • The final FY15 budget, which increases funding for School Readiness, Care4Kids, and other essential programs serving young children. In total, Care4Kids will receive $116.72 million in funding. $11.31 million is allocated to cover contractual changes negotiated by the family child care union, including a 3 percent reimbursement rate increase for family child care providers, as well as a 3 percent rate increase for center-based providers not covered by the contract. The budget maintains increases in funding for quality enhancement in early care and education settings, including increased frequency of licensing inspections and the creation of a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).

Here at All Our Kin, we believe that a coordinated system of early care and education is crucial to ensure that every child in Connecticut—regardless of where they live, their parent’s income, or the color of their skin—has high-quality early experiences that lay the foundation for future success. We’re grateful for the leadership of Governor Malloy and all of the legislators from both parties who have championed children’s issues throughout the session.

In the coming years, we look forward to working with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood to create an inclusive early childhood system that prepares all of Connecticut’s children for success.

To learn more about the passage of these measures, you can read coverage in the CT Mirror, WNPR News, WFSB Channel 3, WTNH, the Hartford Courant blog, and CBS Connecticut. Connecticut Voices for Children has a full analysis of the final budget for FY15. Connecticut’s legislative session will end on May 7.

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