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Voices Speaking

March 28, 2019

Forum on Fixing the Child Care Crisis

A strong, affordable, high quality child care system is a key to a strong and productive economy. We invite you to join us at “Want to Grow the Economy? Fix the Child Care Crisis,” a forum co-sponsored by Connecticut Voices about how the lack of affordable child care affects both businesses and families.

Connecticut’s economic growth is one of the slowest in the country, and Governor Lamont has vowed to lead the state to an economic resurgence.  This will require public and private investment, leadership and—affordable, accessible, high quality child care.  A recently released national study points to $57 billion in lost earnings, productivity and revenue due to the lack of affordable, accessible child care.

Join us and our partners at this forum to learn about steps we can take to support parents, children, and businesses:

  • When: Tuesday, April 2, 2019, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Where: Legislative Office Building, Room 1D, 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford

Learn more about the forum

Issue Area:
Early Care
March 26, 2019

Voices from the Capitol: Reforming the justice system, expanding early care and health care

Speaking Out on Juvenile Justice and Health Care

This week, Connecticut Voices staff are submitting testimony in support of legislation that would reform our justice system and improve health equity:

  • Improving transparency in the justice system. We support Senate Bill 880, which would require Connecticut’s Division of Criminal Justice to produce public reports on prosecutorial data, including defendant demographics, alleged offenses, sentencing decisions, diversionary offerings, and plea deal offerings. This will allow Connecticut to detect points of racial bias within our justice system, and transparent data reporting will strengthen the procedural justice of our system.
  • Promoting age-appropriate treatment of court-involved youth. We support House Bill 7387, which would offer youth the opportunity to participate in a court-ordered class or program and allow courts to favorably consider the successful completion of a program when determining whether the case should remain in juvenile court. It is inappropriate to incarcerate youth in adult prisons, and Connecticut should be working to ensure that fewer children are tried as adults.
  • Removing youth from adult correction facilities. We support sections of House Bill 7389 that would remove youth under the age of 18 from the jurisdiction of the Department of Correction, and implement recommendations of the Office of the Child Advocate pertaining to suicide, solitary confinement, behavioral health programming, family engagement, and use of force against youth in conditions of confinement.
  • Improving health equity through community health workers. We support Senate Bill 859, which would establish a community health worker certification process as a step towards health equity in Connecticut. Community health workers come from the communities where they work and address barriers to health care and unmet needs.  They can help to close the gap between a person’s life circumstances and the treatment available through traditional health systems.

You can find additional recent testimony on our website.

 

Moving Forward on Early Education and Health Care Bills

Legislative committees recently gave children and families cause to celebrate. The Education Committee voted to approve two bills that would expand eligibility for the Care 4 Kids child care subsidy program – Senate Bills 933 and 934. These bills have been referred to the Appropriations Committee for a vote. For more on these proposals, see our testimony. The Committee also approved Senate Bill 936, which implements recommendations of the Office of Early Childhood.

Legislation that would provide Medicaid and HUSKY B coverage to all uninsured, income-eligible children, regardless of their immigration status, was approved by the Human Services Committee. See our testimony for our recommendations on Senate Bill 1053.

The Human Service and Insurance Committees have, respectively, approved two bills with a goal of establishing a public health insurance coverage option -- House Bills 7339 and 7267. To learn more about these bills and our recommendations, see our testimony on House Bill 7339, which would create a working group to make recommendations about the establishment of a public option and House Bill 7267, which would create a public option plan.

 

Issue Areas:
Early Care, Health, Juvenile Justice
March 19, 2019

Voices from the Capitol: Access to Health Care, Recent Successes

Improving Access to Health Care

The Connecticut General Assembly is well into the legislative session, and while public hearings continue, most legislative committees have passed their deadlines to introduce new bills. This week, Karen Siegel, Health Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices, will submit testimony on health-related bills before the Human Services Committee, including the following proposals:

  • Expanding health coverage through a public option. House Bill 7339, An Act Concerning a Public Health Insurance Option, would establish a working group to make recommendations about the establishment of a public health insurance coverage option that would be funded by enrollee premiums and open to individuals ineligible for Medicaid. In our testimony, we make recommendations to amend the proposal to address who will benefit from public option and how it will be structured. Earlier this month, we testified about House Bill 7267, another public option bill.
  • Expanding Medicaid and HUSKY B coverage for children. We support Senate Bill 1053, which would cover all uninsured, income-eligible children, regardless of their immigration status. An estimated 17,000 of Connecticut’s uninsured children are undocumented.
  • Promoting two-generational family economic success. We support Senate Bill 1080, which would create a Two-Generational Family Economic Success Cabinet within the executive branch. The cabinet would facilitate interagency collaboration to support moving families towards economic security, workforce preparedness, and improved health, while promoting dignity and independence.
  • Expanding access to providers for pregnant Medicaid members. We will testify in support of Senate Bill 1078, which would provide state certification of doulas and Medicaid reimbursement for their services. It would also study the effects of doula services on health outcomes for pregnant Medicaid beneficiaries and their infants. Doulas provide physical, emotional, and informational support before, during and after the birth; they do not provide medical care. Evidence suggests that doula support is likely to reduce the dramatic racial disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. These disparities are tied to social as well as medical factors. Access to doula care through Medicaid may help to ensure that low-income women of color have the support and advocacy they need before, during, and after childbirth.

Recent Successes

In the last week, legislative committees approved bills that are supported by Connecticut Voices:

  • The Labor Committee took an important step toward ensuring that parents who work full-time can make ends meet by approving legislation to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15. The Committee voted in favor of Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 5004, both of which were supported by Connecticut Voices.
  • The Committee on Children passed Senate Bill 452, which would establish a State Oversight Council on Children and Families. The Council provides a structure for various stakeholders to support the needs of children and families who could be at risk of entering the foster care system. As we described in our testimony, the Council could help the state to maintain and build upon important gains made under the Juan F. Consent Decree, even after we have exited from federal oversight.

Additional Recent Testimony

Connecticut Voices staff also submitted testimony on the following bills over the last week:

You can always find all of our legislative testimony on our website. 

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Child Welfare, Education, Family Economic Security, Health
March 14, 2019

Voices from the Capitol: Legislative Highlights, Educational Disparity Data

March 14, 2019

Highlights of Our Work at the Capitol

The General Assembly continues to hold hearings in several key committees. Connecticut Voices for Children testified recently on a variety of bills affecting children and families. These are some highlights:

  • Speaking up for low wage working families. Jamie Mills testified in support of Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 5004, which would raise the state's minimum wage to $15. As Jamie explained in her testimony and in an op-ed published recently, we need to both pay workers a living wage and adjust our system of public supports to ensure that improved wages do not result in the loss of resources such as Medicaid and child care subsidies.
  • Protecting public investments in children and families. Subcommittees of the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee held public hearings on the Governor's budget proposal. Our staff submitted testimony on elements of his budget plan that affect children and families served by health programs, the Department of Children and Families, the Judicial Branch, and the State Department of Education and Office of Early Childhood.
  • Calling for equitable and expanded educational opportunities. Wendy Waithe Simmons testified on several bills that would bring us closer to establishing equitable education opportunities. These include bills that would expand eligibility for Care 4 Kids child care subsidies and improve on low compensation for early care and education providers. For more information on how we can improve access to Care 4 Kids, see our fact sheet.
  • Protecting youth in foster care. Jessica Nelson testified in support of House Bill 6403, "An Act Concerning a Children in Care Bill of Rights and Expectations and the Sibling Bill of Rights." This legislation directly addresses concerns expressed by youth in foster care about opportunities to connect to their schools and communities and express their identities. The bill was approved by the Committee on Children. For more information, see our fact sheet.
  • Ensuring age-appropriate treatment of court-involved youth. Adult courts are not equipped to provide children with therapeutic, developmentally-informed services to help them become productive adults, and Black and Brown children are disproportionately more likely to be transferred to adult prison than their white peers. Lauren Ruth testified in opposition to House Bill 7332, which would loosen the statutes defining when the court may choose to transfer youth from juvenile court to adult court.

Also, this Friday, March 15, the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 877, which would implement the Governor's revenue proposals. We will submit testimony on this legislation and will oppose House Bill 6031, which would phase out the estate tax.

Thank You for Signing On to Protect Access to Educational Disparity Data!

Connecticut Voices would like to express our gratitude to the 39 organizations and 81 individuals who signed onto our letter to the Education Committee calling on its members to oppose Senate Bill 851! Your support can help us to preserve access to vital data that enable us to measure and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in education among our state's children and youth. This legislation, which could come up for a committee vote soon, would limit the ability to examine education data by student ethnicity, making it difficult to detect ethnic disparities in access to high-quality education or to measure the impact of reforms on specific student populations. To learn more, see our sign-on letter, fact sheet, and testimony.

Our Latest State Budget Reports

If you missed them, be sure to download our latest reports on the state budget:

  • Impact of the Governor's FY 2020-2021 Budget on Children and Families. Governor Lamont's proposed state budget avoids additional major cuts to essential programs and services for children and families, though it is based on revenue proposals that fall most heavily on our lowest income taxpayers. It asks little of our highest income taxpayers.
    Download the report
  • Connecticut's Radical New Budget Rules: Locking in Decreased Investment in our State for the Next Decade. Connecticut's rigid fiscal rules will ensure that Connecticut remains in a permanent state of fiscal deprivation, starving our schools, health systems and infrastructure of crucial investments.
    Download the report and fact sheet

Additional Recent Testimony

In addition to the legislative testimony described above, we delivered the following testimony on bills in recent weeks:

You can always find all of our legislative testimony on our website.

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Child Welfare, Early Care, Education, Family Economic Security, Health, Juvenile Justice

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