Weekly News - April 11, 2016

It's Week of the Young Child!

Did you that there are approximately 345,000 children in Connecticut between birth through age eight? Let's celebrate them and continue working to ensure that they are all safe, healthy and ready for school success!

Budget Update

Two weeks ago, the Senate and House both voted on a deficit mitigation package and both chambers passed the package fairly quickly. The cuts that were made, in some cases, replaced what had been proposed by the governor with rescissions. Among the cuts, $100,000 to the 2-Gen-TANF in the Department of Labor, $4 million to Temporary Family Assistance in Department of Social Services and a number of cuts to the OEC. Click HERE for cuts and HERE for the CT Mirror story. 

With the 2016 budget no longer in deficit (we'll have to wait to see if it stays that way after tax day), legislators turned their attention to the 2017 budget, which is at least $900 million in the red. Many believe it will be over $1 billion in deficit. The legislature took steps to extend the deadline for the Appropriations and Finance committees to work on the 2017 budget. On Wednesday, April 6, the Appropriations Committee presented a budget with approximately $569 million in cuts. The cuts to the Office of Early Childhood at this point are approximately $2.6 million. There is more cutting to come, as the Appropriations Committee did not meet the full amount of the deficit expected. Thursday, the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee increased revenues by about $10 million over the Appropriations Committee spending plan. Between the two committees, the deficit still stands at $360 million. Therefore, the governor plans to come out with his own budget this week.  

"Where does the budget crisis come from?" That's a question that CT Association for Human Services (CAHS) Policy Director Roger Senserrich asks and answers in this comprehensive blog post. Do we have a state government we can't afford? No, said Senserrich. Connecticut is a wealthy state and we are not doing anything that other states aren’t able to pay for, but it goes beyond that. Read his blog for the answers. 

Keeping Up with the Alliance

2016 Friends of the Family recipients Monday, April 4 was a very busy day for members of the Alliance. In the morning, the CT Family Resource Center Alliance honored three legislators - two representatives and one senator - as "Friends of the Family," during a celebration and ice cream social. Senator Majority Leader Bob Duff, Rep. Michelle Cook and Rep. Roberta Willis were all honored by the FRC Alliance. 

Later that evening, hundreds of people descended on the Emmanuel Lutheran Church, then the Legislative Office Building, for a rally of community, civil rights, and labor organizations to hold legislators accountable to their constituents and not remain beholden to the richest 1 percent. The Fairness for the 99% event focused on five key areas and held legislators accountable for their commitment to these key issues:

Fairness Rally

•Good Jobs and Fair Wages

•Universal Access to Quality Public Education, Preschool to Grad School

•A Vibrant and Fairly Funded Public Sector

•Racial, Gender, and Ethnic Justice

•Democracy in Our State and in Our Work Places 

Mark Your Calendars for Advocacy Days 

It's April and it's almost time for the Alliance's Advocacy Day! Advocacy Day is scheduled for Tuesday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 310 of the Capitol Building. You will hear from advocates and legislators about the early childhood issues before the state legislature. Following the program in Room 310, we encourage people to meet with their legislators. CALL NOW to make an appointment between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. This event is best suited for adults - parents, teachers, program directors, early childhood advocates. To RSVP, click HERE

THIS WEDNESDAY - Local Early Childhood Council Day is on Wednesday, April 13, from11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Room 2D of the Legislative Office Building. This advocacy day will focus solely on issues affecting local councils. Local early childhood councils (LECCs) in over 80 communities across Connecticut are the source in their cities and towns for early childhood coordination, outreach, programs and services for children and families.  The program, which includes a panel discussion, will run from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. From 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m., this is the time to speak with your legislators. Please call prior to the event to set up a meeting with your legislators or their legislative aides. You can RSVP for the event HERE.  

HUSKY A Update

Eighteen thousand HUSKY A parents will receive notices about their coverage that could end on July 31, 2016. For more information about who will be receiving notices and what the options are going forward, click HERE.   

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro Visits Hartford

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro visited Mount Olive Child Development Center in Hartford on April 7 for a briefing on a new national study by the Economic Policy Institute that details a broken system that is holding back working families and the economy. Rachel Leventhal-Weiner from CT Voices for Children shared the findings of the report. Thursday's event included a roundtable discussion on the real impact of low pay on child care teachers and lack of affordable child care options for working parents. A teacher and single parent shared how difficult it was for her to take care of her young daughter. Through tears, she told Congresswoman DeLauro that she worked two jobs and was barely keeping her head above water, while trying to meet all the requirements the state is putting on her for qualifications. 

CT Low Wage Employer Advisory Board Rally and Meeting

On Thursday, April 14, Connecticut's Low Wage Employer Advisory Board wants to hear the needs of all under paid workers. Parents, center teachers, and family child care providers are encouraged to tell their stories. Tell the board we need to invest more in child care workers as the cornerstone of quality. The board will make recommendations to the Office of Early Childhood, Governor Malloy and legislators. The rally is at 4 p.m. and the hearing will be in the LOB from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Parking is available on the street or in the public garages. Call, text or email Helene Figueroa at 203-640-4108 or[email protected] for more information or with questions.

Early Childhood in the News

The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood has introduced a new video series for Connecticut early care and education providers. 

Reflections from the Field is a series of brief videos featuring teachers and family child care providers who share their personal experiences working in the early childhood education field, touching upon strategies they use to support children’s development. 

The series currently includes the following seven videos:

  • Building Community in the Preschool Classroom with Head Start teacher Ashley Anderson
  • Supporting Flexibility in the Toddler Classroom with Early Head Start teacher Janette Rivera
  • When the Unexpected Happens: Seizing the Teachable Moment with preschool teacher Yotisse Williams
  • Learning All the Time: Making the Most of Everyday Experiences with family child care provider Cathy Tormey
  • Building Vocabulary in the Preschool Classroom with preschool teacher Maureen Ostroff
  • Providing Opportunities for Experimentation and Problem-Solving with preschool teacher Karen DelMastro
  • Supporting Critical Thinking in Toddlers with toddler teacher Amie Theriault

These videos were developed by the Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University, with support from the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood.

Last week, the Education Committee approved a bill to ban sugary drinks at child care centers. NBC CT has more on the bill and its purpose. 

CT-AIMH 2016 Spring Meeting and Seminar 

On Thursday, April 21, the CT Association for Infant Mental Health (CT-AIMH) will host its spring meeting and seminar at Woodwinds in Branford, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Breakfast is included. The speaker for the event is Arietta Slade, PhD., Clinical Professor at the Yale Child Study Center; Professor Emerita, Clinical Psychology, The City University of New York; and Co-director of "Minding the Baby." Her topic will be reflective functioning, reflective practice and the challenges of finding calm in the storm. To register, click HERE.  

Family Leave Webinar  

There have been exciting developments in Paid Leave legislation this year across the country. CLASP is hosting a webinar on Thursday, April 21 at 3 p.m. overviewing Family Leave in 2016 so far, and what can be expected ahead. Hear from U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand of New York, where paid family leave is expected to soon become law, as well as from other great speakers on the national and local level. It appears there will be several opportunities to participate in the webinar, if April 21 doesn't work for your schedule. The drop-down menu in the registration page gives a number of additional options.

Childhood Conversations Conference a Big Success in its 10th Year! 

Senator Beth Bye accepting her award from Ken Anthony.Thank you to the 265 participants, presenters, guests and committee members who took part in this year's Childhood Conversations Conference, held April 2 in Windsor. Great discussions happened throughout the day, whether it was in a workshop, during networking opportunities, breakfast or lunch, or visiting with vendors. Morning keynote speaker Scott Noyes presented a thought-provoking presentation on children's playtime outdoors versus screen time indoors with a computer, tablet, etc. Senator Beth Bye, the winner of this year's Childhood Conversations Community Vision Award. 

The CT Early Childhood Alliance is among one of the 18 collaborative organizations that plans the conference from year to year. Collaborators include: The Alliance for Bloomfield's Children, CT After School Network, CT Early Childhood Alliance, CT Family Resource Center Alliance, CT Parent Information and Resource Center, ConnPAT - CT Parents as Teachers, CT Parent Power, First Congregational Church Nursery School - Bloomfield, State Education Resource Center, The SEEDS Network, The Village for Families and Children, University of Hartford, William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, Windsor Department of Social Services, Windsor Early Childhood Council and Windsor Family Resource Centers.