August 2012

Investing in the Early Years: A Great Return for Kids and for Connecticut

Cyd Oppenheimer, J.D., Sarah Esty

Investing in the first five years of children’s lives benefits the children, their parents, and society at large.  Though Connecticut has publicly recognized these many advantages of investing in early care and education, its funding for early care and education remains insufficient to make this goal a reality.  Indeed, even with significant new dollars for early care and education included in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, overall state funding for early care (adjusted for inflation) remains lower than it was in 2002. Furthermore, while the state has many of the pieces of a strong system of services for young children and their families, it still lacks a comprehensive infrastructure to coordinate programs, agencies, and funding (though it is in the process of creating a plan to achieve such a system).

Connecticut can improve the quality of its early care and education programs and expand access to services by:

  • Increasing per-child funding for all state-subsidized early care and education programs to a rate based on the actual cost of providing high quality programs;
  • Increasing funding for professional development and scholarship assistance for child care staff;
  • Continuing to expand early care and education subsidies so that all eligible children have access to programs;
  • Expanding consultation and wraparound services in the areas of children’s health, mental health, and social-emotional development; and
  • Most importantly, creating an infrastructure for our early care and education programs that reduces bureaucracy, facilitates access, ensures uniform standards, holds programs accountable, and heightens quality of all state-subsidized programs.
Issue Area:
Early Care