Sarah Esty and Cyd Oppenheimer, J.D.
This third annual progress report on the state's early care and education system finds:
- Connecticut's patchwork of early care and education programs needs reform to create a coordinated and comprehensive system. Connecticut's publicly-funded early care and education programs rely on multiple funding streams controlled by multiple agencies with varied reporting and eligibility and data requirements. This creates confusion and complications for both providers and parents.
- Funding for early care and education has been stagnant and is more than 10% below 2002 levels. Total state funding for early care and education increased by less than 1% between 2010 and 2011, and remains substantially below levels from early in the decade.
- Connecticut is not serving many of the children who need help. Despite the need for child care from working families struggling through the recession, over 86% of infants and toddlers, and at least 25% of preschoolers living in struggling families (families earning under 75% of the state median income) remain unserved by any state or federal subsidy for early care and education.
- The state lacks the data necessary to determine which aspects of the early care system are working effectively. The report indicates that there is not sufficient data gathered to evaluate the impact of Connecticut's early education services on a child's later school success or which programs are having the greatest impact.
The report calls on state policy makers to maintain early childhood program funding and to develop a more integrated approach to child care and early education.