CT Voices for Children's Budget Webinar and Upcoming Budget Forum
On Wednesday, January 17, CT Voices for Children will host "The State Economy, the State Budget, and the State of Our Children" webinar, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The budget passed by the General Assembly in October was much more than a budget document. In addition to severe cuts, the General Assembly also imposed sweeping changes to the state's constitutional spending cap, along with several new budget restrictions. These rules could dramatically weaken Connecticut's ability to make children and families a priority, and hamper the strategic investments to long-term economic growth.
The coming legislative session will be crucial. These four new fiscal restrictions (bond cap, spending cap, volatility cap and bond lock) have the potential to make all efforts moot. Unless they are addressed, fixed costs will crowd out spending for children and families, with the legislature constrained to only austerity budgeting.
In the webinar, Ellen Shemitz, Executive Director of CT Voices for Children, and Ray Noonan, Associate Policy Fellow, will explore these pressing budgetary issues before the state legislature this session. On the agenda:
- The state of Connecticut's economy, and why it matters for the state budget.
- The state of Connecticut's budget, with an overview on revenues and liabilities
- The state of our children, and how the state has shifted away from its priorities.
- The new fiscal restrictions in the budget, and how they might impede future growth.
- How to chart a path towards fact-based, equitable solutions.
In addition, CT Voices for Children will hold its 17th Annual Budget Forum, on Tuesday, January 30, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the Old Judiciary Room of the State Capitol. To register, click HERE.
As CT Voices for Children gears up for what is sure to be another difficult fiscal year, the forum will explore some of the most pressing budgetary issues before the state legislature this session, including:
- New fiscal restrictions
- The declining Children's Budget
- Surging pension costs
- Fundamental tax reforms
Infant/Toddler Data Available for Two New Regions
Not only does the CT Early Childhood Alliance have data available on Hartford and New Haven regions, but we've now added data for New Britain and Waterbury regions. If you have a meeting you would like the data presented at, please contact Samantha Dynowski to set it up. Click on our graphic to bring you to the data page:Read more
Infant/Toddler Data Available for Hartford and New Haven Regions
The CT Early Childhood Alliance has data available on Hartford and New Haven region. If you have a meeting you would like the data presented at, please contact Samantha Dynowski to set it up. Click on our graphic to bring you to the data page:
Study Shows That When Parents Have Insurance, Child's Health & Well-Being ImprovesThe Center for Children and Families blogs about a new study that provides more evidence that children’s health and well-being improve when parents have health coverage. Click HERE for more.
Governor Makes Adjustments to Budget
To early childhood advocates, the following might be of interest:
School-Based Health Clinics - cut $420,780
Family Programs (TANF) - cut $287,498
K-3 Reading Assessment Pilot - cut $246,158
Evenstart - between targeted savings and delayed start, cut - $142,257
2Gen/TANF - between targeted savings and delayed start, cut - $337,500
Head Start Services - cut $103,740
Federal Updates - Tax Bill, Government Shutdowns and CHIP
Congress has a lot to do in a short period of time. The president is pressing hard for a vote on a tax bill by Christmas. Versions working through Congress would make enormous changes to the current tax structure, potentially creating huge budget deficits in the future. The government is also in danger of a shutdown if there is no year-end spending package in place, and states, including Connecticut, are getting really worried about the status of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which has not been re-authorized. Governor Malloy has stated that Connecticut has about a month's worth of funds left for the program. WTNH Channel 8 covered it locally. New York Magazine has MORE. There is a chance that Congress could wrap it into the year-end spending package.Read more
Care4Kids Resources and Opportunities for Help
Press coverage included an article in the Hartford Courant on Friday, November 10, and article in the CT Mirror. NBC Connecticut also covered the story on Monday, November 13. The reporter spoke to a Hartford-area provider and to OEC Commissioner David Wilkinson. You can watch the full story by clicking on the graphic.
What Does the Newly Signed CT Budget Mean for Health?
Now that the governor has signed the budget, it's time to take a closer look at impact. We've talked about the impacts to early childhood briefly, but now we'll take a look at the impact on oral health.
- The budget would reduce the eligibility cutoff for the Husky A parents program from 150% of the federal poverty level to 133%. Advocates predict this would end health insurance coverage for 9,500 low-income parents, who would have to buy subsidized insurance on the state's insurance exchange. Health insurance bought through the exchange will not cover dental services, which parents had when covered by Medicaid.
- Adult non-emergency dental services will have an annual cap of $1000, although medically necessary services or dentures would be obtainable with prior authorization.
- There will be cost sharing for adults covered by Medicaid. How this will be implemented is to be determined.
- Over 68,000 people who were receiving help to pay premiums and other out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare will lose those benefits. This includes anyone with a monthly income over $1005. This means they may have less to spend on dental care, as Medicare does not cover any dental services.
Promoting Dental Health on the Radio and in the Classroom
Did you know October was Dental Hygiene Month? We're reporting on two oral health items that might be of interest to you.
In October, the radio interview on WICC 600 in Bridgeport featured Mary Boudreau of CT Oral Health Initiative (COHI), discussing dental hygiene month, what a dental hygienist is, National Brush Day (it's November 1), and more. To listen to the full interview, click HERE.
Many early childhood programs take time as part of their curriculum to focus on oral health education. On October 27, the three- and four-year- olds at Sleeping Giant Day Care in Hamden had two visitors and one stuffed kangaroo.
Two dentists from Yale Dental School, Dr. Judy and Dr. Lauren, talked to the children about brushing their teeth, what kinds of foods are good and bad for their teeth, and how to floss their teeth. They made their lessons into games. One game, the children were given a piece of plastic food, and they had to put the food in the box that would be considered "good" or "bad" for their teeth. The kangaroo toy had teeth that the children could practice brushing. They also tried on surgical masks and gloves that dentists and dental hygienists wear.
"How many times a day do we brush?" asked Dr. Judy.
"Two times a day," said the children.
"We brush our teeth, tongue and gums," said Dr. Judy.
The Yale dentists visit once a year, said Edie Reichard, Director of Sleeping Giant Day Care in Hamden.
"I don't think they've missed a year," she said.
The visits provide training for the dental school and helps the child care center meet NAEYC and state requirements. The visit also kicks off a unit the center is starting on dental hygiene. Reichard said they do try to plan these visits around Halloween.
55,775 Home Visits!
The 2017 Homevisiting Yearbook is available and the state profile for Connecticut delves into the numbers of families served, plus other topics including race, ethnicity, caregiver education, child's age, primary language, and insurance status. Models implemented in Connecticut include: Child First, Early Head Start, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers. Statewide, 86 local agencies operated at least one of these models. As we push for Congress to re-authorize MIECHV, please share this graphic to help explain how valuable home visiting is.
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.Read more
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 , in place, due to legislator scheduling conflicts. This is the best chance to get a budget passed before , 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 . 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.