What can Connecticut do to improve lifetime outcomes for young children, particularly those living in poverty and in need of family, school, and community supports?
Connecticut's present and future success is strongly tied to how well we - parents, early childhood providers, communities, and the state - ensure that all of Connecticut's young children are healthy, safe and ready to succeed in school and in life.
1) Create a Comprehensive and Coordinated Early Childhood System the Addresses the Whole Child from Birth through Age 8. Connecticut is at a critical point in early childhood policy and program implementation. Landmark legislation passed in 2011 (Public Act 11-181) sets in motion a process to consolidate and integrate Connecticut's early childhood programs and services. The Office of Early Childhood Planning is undertaking this task. Connecticut's system must coordinate the many programs available to young children and families including but not limited to prenatal, infant and toddler care, home visitation, early care and education, early intervention, mental, physical and dental health, nutrition, housing, safety, family supports, parent engagement, and local early childhood collaboratives.
2) Preserve/Expand State and Federal Funding for Early Childhood. State and federal funding for early childhood services must be preserved and expanded. More than a quarter of Connecticut's children are at risk for factors that jeopardize their early learning and healthy development. Studies on early brain development demonstrate the critical need to invest in children at the earliest age to put them on a path for healthy development and lifelong success. Preserving and expanding state and federal funding for early childhood programs will help close the achievement gap and give our children the tools they need to contribute to our future economy.
3) Invest in the Early Childhood Workforce. A key component of high-quality early childhood education is the recruitment and retention of highly trained teachers. Investments must be made in Connecticut's early childhood workforce to ensure all children have access to high-quality learning experiences. Teacher quality is directly linked to children's positive social, emotional and educational outcomes. Despite the critical role they play in children's early years, early childhood teachers are and continue to be among the lowest paid workers in Connecticut. Compensation must reflect the state's commitment to quality, and the mandate for teachers to hold early childhood education degrees and credentials.
For more information, please contact: Maggie Adair, Executive Director, at email@example.com.