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    Weekly News - October 16, 2017

    September Care4Kids Numbers Reveal a Big Drop in Children Served

    The September Care4Kids numbers came out late last week and the numbers have plunged in children served. We anticipated a drop, as children went off to kindergarten and providers couldn't replace them with another child on Care4Kids, but Care4Kids served only 11,043 children in September (compared to 19,517 last September and 14,955 in August 2017 - the last month reported). That's 3,912 less children from last month and it's across the board, not just the preschoolers moving to kindergarten. We are continuing to do analysis on the information, but these numbers are alarming. The Excel spreadsheet can be found HERE.

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    Weeky News - October 9, 2017

    102 Days and Counting...No State Budget

    It's day 102 and there is no state budget to be had. Leaders met throughout the holiday weekend, and there is hope that leaders can come to a bipartisan agreement to present to the governor and to rank-and-file membership. The governor has put a deadline of this Friday, October 13, in place, due to legislator scheduling conflicts. This is the best chance to get a budget passed before November 1, according to published reports. CT NewsJunkie and CT Mirrorhave more. CT NewsJunkie also reports that the governor is working on another separate budget proposal. Click HERE for more. 

    If you haven't called your legislators yet to support early childhood funding, click HERE to find out how.

    In addition, our friends at CT Voices for Children just released an action alert regarding the state's spending cap. The spending cap has become a central issue in the current bipartisan budget negotiations. While a spending cap can be vital to preventing runaway spending, an overly restrictive cap would mean that CT can no longer make opportunities for children and families a priority. Proposed changes to the spending cap would have that effect, limiting the state's ability to meet vital needs today or key priorities tomorrow. Please call your legislators and urge them to support a spending cap that is driven by a commitment to meet vital needs, strengthening our cities and towns, and spurring equitable economic growth.

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    Weekly News - October 2, 2017

    No Budget Before October 1...Now What?

    As promised, Governor Malloy vetoed the GOP budget proposal approved by the House and Senate. We've reached October 1 and there is still no budget. This is when the ECS funds are cut to 85 towns and reduced for 54 others via the governor's revised executive order. To read more about the executive order, click HERE.  The House has been summoned to a veto override session on Tuesday afternoon. For more about the veto override session, click HERE. 

    We know this can become tiresome, but this is the time we need your advocacy the most.

    The budget the governor vetoed would eliminate the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) and move the functions (including licensing, Birth-to-Three, Care4Kids, home visiting, and others) to the State Department of Education.  The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance strongly opposes this measure.  A state agency focused on all the needs of our youngest children must be maintained. 

    It is very important that early childhood advocates speak up to ensure that the best budget for early childhood is passed.  Please take a few minutes today to make 2 phone calls:

    1) Call your state Senator and State Representative and say “I am calling about the Office of Early Childhood.  Please make sure it stays as its own agency so that early childhood gets the focus it deserves.”  You can look up your legislator and their phone number HERE.  Phone numbers for each of the Legislative caucuses are as follows:

    House Democrats: (860) 240-8500 or toll-free  (800) 842-1902
    House Republicans: (860) 240-8700 or toll-free (800) 842-1423
    Senate Democrats: (860) 240-8600 or toll-free (800)842-1420
    Senate Republicans: (860) 240-8800 or toll-free  (800) 842-1421
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    Weekly News - September 25, 2017

    Call Your Legislators!

    The GOP budget proposal approved by the House and Senate has not yet been sent to the Governor's desk, but Governor Malloy has indicated when it does get transmitted, he will veto it. We know this can become tiresome, but this is the time we need your advocacy the most.

    This budget eliminates the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) and moves the functions (including licensing, Birth-to-Three, Care4Kids, home visiting, and others) to the State Department of Education.  The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance strongly opposes this measure.  A state agency focused on all the needs of our youngest children must be maintained. 

    It is very important that early childhood advocates speak up to ensure that the best budget for early childhood is passed.  Please take a few minutes today to make 3 phone calls:

    1) The Governor has vowed to veto the budget, but it is still important to call his office at (860) 566-4840 or toll-free at(800) 406-1527 and say “I am calling to ask the Governor to veto the budget, and keep the Office of Early Childhood.” 

    2) Call your state Senator and State Representative and say “I am calling about the Office of Early Childhood.  Please make sure it stays as its own agency so that early childhood gets the focus it deserves.”  You can look up your legislator and their phone number HERE.  Phone numbers for each of the Legislative caucuses are as follows:

    House Democrats: (860) 240-8500 or toll-free  (800) 842-1902
    House Republicans: (860) 240-8700 or toll-free (800) 842-1423
    Senate Democrats: (860) 240-8600 or toll-free (800)842-1420
    Senate Republicans: (860) 240-8800 or toll-free  (800) 842-1421
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    Weekly News - September 11, 2017

    It's Time to Contact Your Legislators Again! Budget Vote on Thursday

    This is hopefully the last time we ask you for your help!  The state legislature is expected to vote on a budget on Thursday.  It is up to us to make sure they go into that vote with early childhood on their minds.  Here’s what we need you to do:

    Call or text (if you know their cell phone) or Facebook your legislators with this message:

    “When you vote on Thursday, please remember our youngest children.  All of our early childhood programs and interventions are investments that help children and save money down the line.  I especially ask that you support the Care4Kids program with the proposed $124 million in funding.”

    If you know that your legislator has been supportive of early childhood, please add a thank you for all that they have done.  

    Not sure who your legislator is?  Click HERE.

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    Weekly News - September 5, 2017

    Budget Update

    House Democrats will caucus today, ahead of next week's session, which we are hearing will be Thursday, September 14. There has been no GOP counter budget released. Yesterday, the CT Mirror reported that Governor Malloy has offered a compromise when it comes to towns and cities when it comes to covering the costs of teacher pensions. He also seems more open to entertaining revenue options. To read more, click HERE. 

    Care4Kids in the News

    On Labor Day, the CT Mirror published an article on the impact the closure of Care4Kids is having on child care providers. Enrollment is down 33% (7,500) from last July, and that is forcing providers to make difficult decisions. The CT Mirror contacted Georgia Goldburn, who explained what options she's facing at her center. To read the full article, click HERE.

    Care4Kids Highs and LowsFollowing up on the Care4Kids info, the Alliance has created a chart to show the highs and lows in enrollment over the past few years. As you can see from the chart, June, July, and August are often the highest peaks for enrollment, which include summer camps. As you look at 2017, those highs are not there anymore.
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    Weekly News - August 28, 2017

    Budget Update

    Last week, the House Democrats proposed yet another budget (it may actually be the 15th one this year).  They saw the Governor’s Municipal and Educational Cost Sharing grant cuts, which were awful enough to start talking about revenue.  Their proposal increases revenue by $2.1 over two years through a half percent increases in the sales tax and other fees.

    With that additional revenue, the House Democrats propose to reduce the cuts to towns and schools from the Governor’s roughly $1 billion down to a much more bearable $122 million.

    A Republican response is expected soon and it is still to be seen if we are any closer to a majority for any budget.

    Here’s the Good News and Bad News for Early Childhood in the House Democrats 8/23/17 budget.

    First the Good News:

    • Does not move OEC to SDE
    • Does not move Birth to Three to DSS
    • Funds Care 4 Kids at $124,981,059 in FY 18.
    • Funds Birth to Three at $24,686,804
    • Funds Even Start at $350,000
    • Funds 2-Gen at $250,000 
    • Maintains funding for School Readiness and State Funded Centers

    Then the Bad News

    • Care4kids is only funded at  $109,530,084 (-$15.4 Million) in the second year of the biannual budget (FY19)
    • Does not appear to provide the remaining funding for Birth to Three in the DSS budget
    • Does not include the funding for Help Me Grow  
    • Does not restore funding for Community Plans

    To recap, if passed, this budget would allow Care4Kids to enroll some people off of the waiting list.  Multiple media outlets have reported a session the week of September 11 for a budget vote.

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    Weekly News - August 21, 2017

    25% Fewer Children Receiving Care4Kids

    The July Care4Kids numbers have been released. Compared to last year, 7,484 fewer children are being served by this program. The Care4Kids enrollment numbers, broken down by town and age category, can be found HERE(click on the PDF or Excel for July 2017).

    Care4Kids was highlights in a recent article by Nate Lynch at the New London Day. His article featured interviews with child care providers in Southeastern CT, families that utilize Care4Kids, and our Executive Director, Merrill Gay. The article can be found HERE.

    Don't forget - the Alliance is hosting a discussion on Care4Kids on the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving's Early Childhood Collaborative website. To find our discussion, click HERE. You will need a free account to comment.
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    Weekly News - August 14, 2017

    Budget Update

    Although the state is now more than six weeks without a budget, the annual Tax Free week will still take place, as mandated by state statute. This year's tax free holiday is August 20-26, and residents won't have to pay sales tax on most clothing and footwear priced under $100. In the meantime, this tax free holiday means the state will miss out on approximately $4.1 million in revenue that it so desperately needs at this moment. The CT Mirror has MORE 

    Despite no budget, the state will continue to fund Smart Start classrooms, to the tune of $3.3 million, to fund 45 classrooms that enroll 665 children, mostly from low-income households. CT Mirror has MORE. 

    We need to continue to push for new revenue, because cuts alone would be devastating. If you haven't spoken to your legislators recently, do it now. Don't assume your neighbor is doing it - legislators need to hear from all of us. We know for a fact that they're hearing a lot from the "no new taxes" folks and not hearing nearly enough from us. Tell them you support increased revenue, whether it's the income tax, sugar tax, tolls, an increase to the cigarette tax. We CANNOT make cuts only. There has to be a balance and this budget has to be fair and moral.
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    Weekly News - July 31, 2017

    Budget Update

    On July 31, the Senate convened to take on the SEBAC agreement. After hours of debate, the Senate narrowly approved the agreement, with Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman offering the "aye" vote to break the tie. Thank you to everyone who made calls yesterday to Senators Slossberg, Hartley and Doyle, the three senators who were on the fence. To read more about what transpired yesterday, click HERE. 

    Now, focus returns to the budget. We are more than a month into the fiscal year without a budget. We need to continue to push for new revenue, because cuts alone would be devastating. Sheldon Toubman, staff attorney for New Haven Legal Aid, sat down with the CT Mirror, to talk about the need to raise revenue, so as not to shred the safety net. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said last week, prior to the Senate vote on the SEBAC agreement, that if the Senate approved the concessions package, the budget shortfall would be in the $200-$400 million range. CT Newsjunkie has more.

    If you haven't spoken to your legislators recently, do it now. Don't assume your neighbor is doing it - legislators need to hear from all of us. We know for a fact that they're hearing a lot from the "no new taxes" folks and not hearing nearly enough from us. Tell them you support increased revenue, whether it's the income tax, sugar tax, tolls, an increase to the cigarette tax. We CANNOT make cuts only. There has to be a balance and this budget has to be fair and moral.

    CABHN (CT Alliance for Basic Human Needs) will host a "part two update" on the state budget, with CT Voices for Children's Ray Noonan presenting. The event takes place Friday, August 4, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at 21 Oak Street, Hartford (building that houses CEA, first floor). There is no RSVP necessary.

    CT Voices for Children Issues New Report: Accessing Quality in CT's Early Childhood System

    CT Voices for Children released a new report on July 24, entitled "Accessing Quality in CT's Early Childhood System," which compares NAEYC accredited programs to Perry Preschool, Abecedarian, and CARE. Among the top findings: 

    • The best models for early care and education show significant enduring benefits in children’s test scores, graduation rates, employment, earnings, and other areas.
    • High-quality early care and education has two key components: responsive classroom experiences plus wrap-around supports to meet the needs of the whole child and the family.
    • Although most ECE programs in Connecticut do not include rigorous wrap-around supports, our state’s early childhood system as a whole includes those supports.
    • Connecticut’s NAEYC-accredited ECE programs are roughly comparable to the best available models and bring an estimated $2.3 billion in long-term returns to the state.
    • Despite recent efforts to improve the quality of care, increasing access to care remains a significant challenge, especially for low-income families.

     Recommendations to Improve Quality and Access

    • Preserve funding for wrap-around service programs for early childhood.
    • Continue current Office of Early Childhood quality improvement efforts, with greater involvement of parents and ECE providers.
    • Prioritize access to care for low-income families.

    A few weeks prior to this report's released, CT Voices also released The Economic Benefits of High-Quality Early Care, in which the organizations estimated the value of current high-quality programs, the value CT would gain from high-quality care for all children who need it, and the value lost through keeping Care 4 Kids closed. The report was the topic (along with a teaser of the new report) on WICC 600 AM's "Coffee Break Chat." Click HERE to listen.

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