Weekly News - February 12, 2018

Budget Update: Hearings Begin on CT's Biennium Budget

The Appropriations Committee will hold state agency budget presentations and public hearings from Thursday, February 15 through Friday, February 23. Public speaker order for the public hearings will be determined by a lottery system. Numbers will be drawn from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the LOB First Floor Atrium and from 10:15 until 1 p.m. in Room 2700. Speakers arriving after the completion of the lottery will have their names places at the end of the speaker list. The list of speakers registered through the lottery system will be posted outside the designated hearing room two hours prior to the start of the public hearing. Please submit 30 copies of written testimony at the time of sign-up, but no later than 2 p.m. Testimony received after the the designated time may not be distributed until after the hearing. Please email written testimony in Word or PDF format toAPPtestimony@cga.ct.gov. A full list of hearings can be found on the CGA website under "Public Hearings," then "Appropriations Committee." Public hearings of interest include:

Wednesday, February 21 (Room 2C)

Human Services

10 a.m. to 11 a.m. - Department of Children and Families

11 a.m. to 12 p.m. - Department of Social Services

6 p.m. - Public Hearing

Thursday, February 22 (Room 2C)

Elementary and Secondary Education

1 p.m. to 2 p.m. - Department of Education

2 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Office of Early Childhood

5 p.m. Public Hearing

Continuing Resolution Doubles CCDBG, Reauthorizes MIECHV, Extends CHIP

Last week, a glimmer of hope came out of Washington - a bi-partisan agreement on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to continue to fund the federal government until late March. Within that agreement, there were several wins for children and families - the doubling of the CCDBG funding, which will give Connecticut an additional $18 million in funding for the Care4Kids program (from $53.8 million to $72.2 million). This is great news - but we need to make sure we stress the importance that this money does not get absorbed into the state budget. Federal law says it shouldn't be used to supplant. Advocates want the additional funding to go into additional child care slots and rate increases for infant and toddler slots.

The bill also re-authorized the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV) for five years, which expired in September 2017. This will help ensure at-risk parents can continue to work with voluntary home visiting providers to become their baby's best teacher and caregiver.

Finally, we know that in the last CR, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), was extended for six years, which caused everyone to breathe a sigh of relief, but also left people scratching their heads, given the CBO score that showed the cost benefit to extending to a full decade. But in this last CR, CHIP was extended again - this time to ten years. Georgetown University Health Policy Institute takes a closer look at what goes into the CHIP extension.

President Trump's Budget Proposal Widens Inequality and Poverty 

President Trump released his $4.4 trillion budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2019 on Monday. SNAP could see some big changes. For families receiving $90 or more a month in SNAP, which is about 80% of recipients, they would receive approximately half of their benefit in the form of a "USDA Foods Package." It would consist of shelf-stable milk, ready-to-eat cereal, pasta, peanut butter, beans, and canned fruits and vegetables (no fresh fruits and vegetables). In doing this, the administration believes it can cut the overall cost by $129 billion over the next decade, and reduce the SNAP budget by $213 billion over the next decade, by cutting the program by 30%. NPR has MORE on the SNAP proposal. There are also proposals to cut Medicaid by $250 billion over the next decade, Section 8 housing, and public housing capital repairs. It's important to note that Congress has the final say on the budget. The Washington Post delves into the Medicaid and Section 8 proposals. Another potential program targeted is the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, which helped 110,000 families pay for their heat in the winter. CTNewsJunkie has more on LIHEAP.

According to CLASP, "the president proposes to finance the recent massive federal tax cuts by making cruel and devastating cuts to programs that support children, families, and people of modest means. It could also echo across the country by destabilizing state and local budgets, leading to cuts in basic services at the community level."

February is Children's Dental Health Month

Every month should be children's dental health month, but February is specifically designed for that purpose! The focus of the month is to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers, etc. The slogan this year is, "brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile." For planning materials, click HERE.

How will your program celebrate Children's Dental Health Month? Send us some pictures and share your ideas so that we can share what you're doing with others.

Here's a fun fact for you, courtesy of Colgate Toothpaste: Unlike bones or other parts of the body, teeth are incapable of self-repair. This is why receiving fillings and other dental work is necessary to protect teeth from further damage.

Advocacy Day In March

The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance will host its annual Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the Old Judiciary Room of the State Capitol. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., the program runs from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., followed by meetings with your local legislators. To register, visit www.earlychildhoodalliance.com/calendar. The flier can be found HERE.

Parental Cell Phone Use Can Halt Language Learning

Researchers at Temple University found that children are less likely to learn a new word when a phone call interrupts the child's conversation with the parent. To read more about the study, click HERE.

SAVE THE DATE: Childhood Conversations/Together We Will Conference

In a new venture this year, the annual Childhood Conversations Conference and the Together We Will Conference are working together to bring you one comprehensive conference on Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7, at the Hartford/Windsor Marriott! Registration will be open soon, but please mark your calendars if you have attended either of these conferences and learned a lot from them. We hope to see you in 2018!

Help DPH Understand Nutrition and Physical Activity Policies

If you operate an early care and education program, please complete this brief surveyprior to February 28The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. It is recommended that the program director, head teacher, or another staff person with a thorough knowledge of the program's policies and practices complete the survey.  

The CT Department of Public Health will use the information to gain a better understanding of Connecticut's early care and education policies and practices and will work to align future resources and training opportunities based on this information. Responses will not be analyzed by individual programs.  Findings will be used by DPH as part of grant monitoring and evaluation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 


Support for the Alliance comes from of our members and our funders: The William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, Connecticut Health Foundation, Connecticut Community 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; and The Fund for Greater Hartford.  

If you're interested in supporting our work, please consider a donation HERE.