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.

CAHS/Alliance Survey Reveals Care4Kids Impact

In order to understand how the August 2016 changes to the Care4Kids program have affected child care providers, the CT Early Childhood Alliance and CAHS recently disseminated an online survey to providers around the state. With a sample size of 191 respondents, the survey offers a snapshot of the experiences of child care providers. The full brief can be found HERE, however here are a few findings:
  • Approximately 74% of the 191 respondents reported a net decrease in Care4Kids children served since the August 2016 closure of the program
  • Among the 142 providers that experienced losses, there was an average decrease of approximately 13 Care4kids children enrolled at each child care center
  • The impacts of the cuts have been felt differently by providers of varying sizes
  • 168, or 88% of respondents reported experiencing increased problems with filling vacancies since the August 2016 changes to Care4Kids 

"All Hands On Deck" Coalition Urges Legislature to Consider Revenue Options

"All Hands on Deck," a coalition of non-profits, child advocacy organizations, women's organizations, education providers, labor and citizen action groups, held a well-attended press conference, both by advocates and the media. The coalition pushed seven potential revenue options, including: higher tax rate on wealthy individuals (0.5% increase on the upper income earners), reduce corporate expenditures by 10%, institute a low wage employer fee, expand sales tax while lowering effective tax rate, legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana (NOTE: The Alliance has never taken a stance on this option), sweetened beverage tax, and tolls. Any combination of these, even just two or three, would be beneficial to reducing the number of cuts necessary to balance the budget. Some of the articles on the event and options: CT Mirror, CT NewsJunkie, CT-N (you can watch the full press conference with this link). Also in attendance: Channel 3, Fox 61, Hartford Courant, Meriden Record-Journal, and Waterbury Republican American.

Congress Has Yet to Re-Authorize CHIP Program; CT Could Run Out of Money to Fund CHIP

Congress returns from its August recess next week and on the agenda is the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which currently covers 17,000 Connecticut children under the age of 19. The program is funded largely through federal dollars, with a small contribution by the state. Authorization for CHIP, also known as HUSKY B, is set to expire by the end of September. The program was last re-authorized in 2015 for two years. The concern is that CHIP re-authorization will become entangled in "replace and repeal" of the ACA, or get lost in the mix with raising the debt ceiling, approving a federal budget, and a disaster relief bill in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. According to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, without re-authorization, Connecticut would be one of the first states to run out of money. CT's Department of Social Services (DSS) says with leftover funds, from the last allocation of federal CHIP dollars, money will run out by the end of December. The CT Mirror explains the current situation faced by Connecticut and the rest of the nation when it comes to CHIP.

All Our Kin Offers Resources in the Wake of Charlottesville

We try our best to shield our children from the violence and racism that exists in our country, but sometimes, it's very hard to do. Our friends at All Our Kin have compiled a list of resources that can help adults talk to children, and answer any questions they may have, about systemic racism and social inequality in an age-appropriate way. AOK is also partnering with family child care providers, children, and parents, to create a more just and equitable world. This fall, with the support of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, AOK is launching a new initiative, "Building a Better World for Our Children. This project will bring family child care providers and staff together to dream the reality we want for our children, our communities, and ourselves, and then co-create strategies to move us towards this vision. To learn more, contact Dana Holahan at 203-772-2294 or dana@allourkin.org 

Racism and Violence: Using Your Power as a Parent to Support Children Aged Two to Five

This resource from Zero To Three provides thoughts and guidelines for talking about the complex issues of racism and equality in age-appropriate ways with children two to five years of age. It is broken down into four sections: 1) Guidelines for Talking about Racism and Violence, 2) Ideas for Answering Difficult Questions, 3) How to Help Your Child Respond to Traumatic or Scary Experiences, and 4) Protecting Children While We Work for Social Justice. 
 
This tip sheet, created by EmbraceRace in partnership with MomsRising, is designed to help parents of all backgrounds talk to their children about race early and often, by lifting up age-appropriate activities that can be incorporated easily into daily life.

Teaching kids not to "see" race isn't the best approach for raising anti-racist children. This Buzzfeed article provides a list of seven things adults can do instead--actions to take to help children understand complex issues like systemic racism and societal inequity. There is a great list of additional resources at the end of the article. 
 
Representation in literature matters. This website includes a large selection of multicultural and social justice books for children, young adults, and educators. Two pages that we find particularly helpful: 1) A Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children's Books, and 2) 50 Booklists broken down by category, including a list of Spanish/Bilingual books. 

This extensive resource includes more than 100 free, downloadable articles on anti-bias in early childhood education. Almost all of the articles are available in both English and Spanish. They are grouped into four categories: 1) Curriculum, 2) Identity development, 3) Language development, and 4) Parent/family resources.

The Diaper Bank Hosts Annual "Rock Your Baby" Event

Mark your calendars for Thursday, September 14, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and buy your tickets for the annual "Rock Your Baby" event, hosted by The Diaper Bank, at Amarante's Sea Cliff in New Haven. Tickets are $75 per person and sponsorship opportunities are available. Proceeds benefit The Diaper Bank, a Connecticut-based non-profit organization, that centralizes the fundraising and distribution of free diapers to poor families through existing service providers, including local food pantries soup kitchens, daycare centers, social service agencies and shelters. In its 13 years of existence, The Diaper Bank has distributed more than 20 million free diapers to poor and low-income families through its Diaper Distribution Network (DDN) of over 60 agencies in New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex and Windham Counties. To purchase tickets or sponsorship info, click HERE.

 

Support for the Alliance comes from of our members and our funders: The William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, Connecticut Health Foundation, Children's Fund of Connecticut, CT Early Childhood Funder Collaborative, a project of CT Council of Philanthropy; The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut; Community Foundation of Greater New Britain; Community Foundation of Greater New Haven; The Fund for Greater Hartford; and The Eder Family Foundation