Weekly News - March 14, 2016

This Week at the Capitol

State Capitol BuildingAs we get closer to May, committees are moving bills forward. The Children's Committee has issued "JF Reports" (joint favorable reports), with a deadline of March 10. To see the list of JF'd bills from the Children's Committee, click HERE

The Education Committee has scheduled meetings this Wednesday, Friday and next Monday to finish their bills. Education's Joint Favorable deadline is March 21. 

Senate Bill 216, "AN ACT EXPANDING THE SALES TAX EXEMPTION TO INCLUDE FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS AND DISPOSABLE OR REUSABLE DIAPERS," had a public hearing on March 7 before the Public Health Committee. 

The Labor Committee passed SB 221, "AN ACT CONCERNING PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE," out of committee with joint favorable substitute language and now has been filed with the Legislative Commissioner's Office.  

SB 391, "AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECOUPMENT OF STATE COSTS ATTRIBUTABLE TO LOW WAGE EMPLOYERS," was referred to a public hearing before Human Services on March 8. It was JF'd at the March 15 Human Services Committee meeting. CT NewsJunkie has more on the bill. 

House Bill 5370, "AN ACT INCREASING THE MINIMUM FAIR WAGE," was referred to the Labor Committee and had a public hearing on March 3. The bill was not called at the 3/10 Labor Committee meeting and the committee is not scheduled to meet again before the committee deadline. 


HB 5557, "AN ACT CONCERNING RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS," had a public hearing on March 3 before the Education Committee. 

SB 112, "AN ACT PROVIDING CHILD CARE FOR ASSISTANCE RECIPIENTS ENROLLED IN APPROVED HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS," has been combined with HB 5466, "AN ACT CONCERNING CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS CHECKS FOR HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS OF A FAMILY CHILD CARE HOME OR GROUP CHILD CARE HOME" in the Education Committee. It has received a joint favorable report out of Education. 

SB 390, "AN ACT CONCERNING A TWO-GENERATION INITIATIVE," had a public hearing before Human Services on 3/8 and was passed out of committee with a joint favorable report on 3/15.

Watch our BILLS page for updates as the session continues or visit the CT General Assembly website to directly track bills that you are interested in.

Budget Update

The Republican members of the House and Senate have put forth a proposal to close the spending gap in the 2016 budget, by proposing employee furlough days (as opposed to layoffs), a 10% reduction in legislative salaries, reduce funding to CT-N, and eliminate $24 million in funding to municipalities that was supposed to help lower property taxes. The Republican budget restores money to hospitals and private nonprofit providers. Although he didn't agree with every proposal, Governor Malloy called the GOP plan "an honest effort."CT NewsJunkie and CT Mirror have more.  

Breaking Baby Mental Health News

(From ZERO TO THREE) The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, voted out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee today, now includes a provision for infant and early childhood mental health.  The provision addresses the need for prevention, intervention, and treatment programs specifically for very young children. It was not included in the original draft of the reform legislation. ZERO TO THREE worked with infant mental health advocates to spearhead the effort to add the measure. Its inclusion underscores the need to focus comprehensive mental health reform where the foundations of strong mental health are laid – with young children, starting from birth.

“We are extremely grateful to Senator Bill Cassidy and Senator Chris Murphy, who championed the infant-toddler provision, as well as Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray, for recognizing that babies’ mental health matters,” said Matthew Melmed, executive director, ZERO TO THREE. “The action taken today is an important starting point toward investing in infant mental health prevention, identification and treatment.” 

Specifically, the infant and early childhood mental health provision added to the bill would:

  • Award grants to develop, maintain, or enhance infant and early childhood mental health prevention, intervention and treatment programs. 
  • Ensure that funded programs are grounded in evidence and are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
  • Allow funds to support:
    • age-appropriate preventive, early intervention, or treatment services;
    • training for infant and early childhood mental health clinicians to integrate with other providers who work with young children and families;
    • training for mental health clinicians in infant and early childhood mental health; and
    • mental health consultation to early care and education programs.

The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Early Childhood Advocacy Day

Have you registered yet? Tuesday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., is the date of the Alliance's annual Advocacy Day. The event will take place in Room 310 of the Capitol (old Appropriations Room). This event, with issue-based presentations, is best suited for adults - parents, teachers, program directors, early childhood advocates. To RSVP, click HERE. Local early childhood councils - an advocacy day is being planned for April 13 that will focus solely on issues affecting local councils. More information to follow. 

CT Voices Briefs

CT Voices for Children has published an analysis of the impact of the Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 17 budget on early care and education. The proposed budget adjustment maintains support for early care and education programs at the levels passed at the end of last session. However, the budget proposes to eliminate or make cuts to programs that ensure quality improvements and a two-generation approach across Connecticut’s early care and education network. Voices also published proposed revenue options to address the state's budget crisis.  

CT's Low Wage Employer Advisory Board Meeting - Speak Out for Child Care That Works!  

Connecticut's Low Wage Employer Advisory Board wants to hear the needs of underpaid workers. Parents, child care directors, teachers, providers and aides should tell the board why there needs to be an investment in child care workers as the cornerstone of quality. This board will make recommendations to the Office of Early Childhood, which funds child care and early learning programs in Connecticut. The meeting is Tuesday, March 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the City of New Haven Hall of Records, 200 Orange Street, Room G-2 (ground floor). Parking is available on the street or in public garages. Please RSVP to Shola Ajayi at 202-288-3378 or at shola.ajayi@seiu.org. One last step - let us know you're going to this meeting by RSVP'ing to the Alliance HERE

Early Childhood in the News

Zero to Three's Matthew Melmed takes a closer look at infant-toddler care and says as the presidential candidates discuss and debate how to improve our country, nurturing the youngest Americans should be top of mind for all who are serious about securing our future. When babies get a good start in life, their chances for success, and ours, increase exponentially.  The HuffPost Parents has more. 

On March 15, Janet Alfano, Executive Director of The Diaper Bank, was a guest on WICC 600AM's "The Coffee Break Chat" with Mike Bellamy. This morning's discussion was on SB 216, "AN ACT EXPANDING THE SALES TAX EXEMPTION TO INCLUDE FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS AND DISPOSABLE OR REUSABLE DIAPERS." There are several bills before the legislature this year, but this one combines baby diapers with feminine hygiene products when it comes to tax exemption. To listen to the full interview, click HERE.  

Diane Levin to Present at Yale in May

Diane Levin, nationally known author, champion of children and families and advocate will be speaking in New Haven on Wednesday, May 4, from 6-8 p.m. at Yale’s School of Organization and Management (165 Whitney Avenue). Levin, an early childhood education professor at Wheelock College, will focus her discussion on, " Endangered Play, Endangered Development: Why Play is Even More Important in the 21st Century." The event is sponsored by the New Haven Association for the Education of Young Children, Yale University and the Gesell Institute.  To learn more about Diane, click HERE.

Childhood Conversations Conference Approaching!

Childhood Conversations 2015The 10th Annual Childhood Conversations Conference is coming soon! It will be held Saturday, April 2, at the Hartford-Windsor Airport Marriott in Windsor, CT. Six professional development hours are available for this event, which offers a variety of workshops and vendors, networking opportunities, and fun lunchtime entertainment. To register for the event, visit the Childhood Conversations website. Early-bird pricing is good until Friday, March 18

Save the Date!  

On April 6, 2016, the State Education Resource Center (SERC), in collaboration with several other organizations, will be hosting the 23rd Annual Together We Will Early Childhood Conference in Cromwell. Participants will learn about supporting families and children who experience circumstances such as child and maternal trauma, substance abuse and unstable housing as well as supporting children with developmental delays. Click HERE to register!