February 2011

Connecticut Early Care and Education Progress Report, 2010

Annemarie Hillman & Cyd Opppenheimer, JD

This progress report on the state's early care and education system finds that the state has already reversed progress in early childhood funding in recent years. A lack of central coordination of early childhood programs leaves child care providers and parents confused by a diverse array of programs, requirements, and funding sources. Among the key findings of the report:

  • After several years of improvement and expansion in early care and education, the state has recently reversed progress in funding. Overall funding declined by 6.3% between Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010, the first decline since 2004.
  • Despite the need for child care from families struggling through the recession, fewer Connecticut children are being served as a result of these funding cuts.
  • Despite research pointing to the importance of quality to the educational value of early childhood education experience, and increasing educational degree requirements for child care providers, funding for quality improvement decreased by 14.7% between Fiscal Year 2008 and 2010 (adjusted for inflation).
  • Connecticut lacks a coordinated and comprehensive early care and education system. Currently, the state suffers from poor coordination and planning for its patchwork of state-supported programs.
  • Young children are experiencing large educational preparation and achievement gaps. Children from low-income areas are less likely to have preschool experiences, and by fourth grade, there is a vast achievement gap between socioeconomic and ethnic and racial groups. Because of a lack of data collection and analysis -- tied to the state's limited coordination and planning -- policymakers cannot adequately evaluate the impact of its early care programs in Connecticut and their impact on later preparation and achievement.

To improve access to and quality of child care programs, Connecticut Voices recommends that the Governor and state legislators:

  • Maintain, and ultimately increase funding for early care and education.
  • Create a coordinated system of early care and education, ideally through a state department in the executive branch (e.g., the Dept. of Early Childhood) that works to integrate existing program "silos," gather data to evaluate and improve quality of care, and fund services based on the actual costs of providing care.
Issue Area:
Early Care