Governor Lamont Signs Executive Order Directing the Development of a Strategic Plan On Connecticut’s Child Care Future
Governor’s FY 2024-2025 Budget Proposal Includes Incentives for Businesses To Help Their Employees With the Costs of Child Care
(RIDGEFIELD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today held a ceremony at the U.S. headquarters of pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim in Ridgefield, where he signed an executive order requiring the development of a strategic plan to design the next generation of child care in Connecticut, with a focus on ensuring the state has a robust and accessible system of child care that works for families, providers, and the state’s economy.
To develop this plan, the executive order establishes the Connecticut Blue-Ribbon Panel on Child Care. This panel will be responsible for providing the governor with a data-driven, actionable, strategic plan that supports optimal child development, family needs, business needs, and prioritizes equitable access to early care and education. It will consist of parents, early childhood education experts, business leaders, higher education officials, public school officials, child care and education providers, and legislators.
Governor Lamont explained that he wants this plan to be created because although Connecticut is highly ranked as a great place for families, the early childhood care and education system continues to be challenged by certain issues that prevent children from receiving high-quality care they need and makes it difficult for families to access reliable care.
“Connecticut is one of the best states in the nation to raise a family, and I want to do more to ensure that nobody is left behind when it comes to accessing quality child care,” Governor Lamont said. “One of the biggest barriers to high-quality child care continues to be affordability, and we need to implement a system that provides quality education and care at a price that families can afford. Additionally, the early care and education sector is experiencing nationwide workforce shortages, negatively impacting quality. Child care professionals are among the lowest paid workers in our state, despite their vital work. A strong child care system produces a stronger state, stronger economy, and better place to live for everyone. Our goal is to develop an equitable, high-quality, and sustainable child care system that ensures that every child has a quality educational foundation that will prepare them to grow, learn, and succeed.”
Connecticut Office of Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye will serve as the panel’s chairperson.
“The research is clear that high-quality early childhood education supports children’s health and school readiness, and it improves families’ economic security,” Commissioner Beth Bye said. “But today, here and nationally, the child care system is fragile economically, and faces workforce challenges that undermine program quality. Connecticut has a complex array of programs aimed at supporting high-quality, affordable child care. It can be simplified and we can better maximize and leverage the reach of these investments with focus and planning. This panel created by Governor Lamont’s executive order includes a mix of leaders in early childhood and business, and it is ready to evaluate the current system and early childhood investments while looking at other approaches to innovate here. This is an exciting opportunity for Connecticut to lead and improve equitable access and child care quality.”
To support the panel’s work, The Hunt Institute, a national nonpartisan education policy organization, has offered to provide its deep expertise around planning processes based on its experiences working with other states. Social Venture Partners Connecticut and other consultants will also aid in the planning process.
“Connecticut has long been on the cutting edge when it comes to support of its young children and families,” Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, president and CEO of The Hunt Institute, said. “We applaud Governor Lamont’s decision to create this panel, and we look forward to drawing on lessons learned from our work with bipartisan leaders across the nation as we support its work over the coming months.”
Encouraging businesses to support child care for their employees
The governor decided to hold today’s ceremony at Boehringer Ingelheim because he wanted to highlight one of the few businesses in the state that provides on-site child care services to its employees, giving these workers a convenient and cost-effective method of receiving high-quality early childhood care and education just steps from where they work. The company’s Apple Blossom Children’s Learning Center opened in 2006 and enables its employees to receive care at tuition rates that are approximately 20% lower than other facilities in the area. The center meets Connecticut’s highest quality standard of National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation.
Governor Lamont wants to encourage more businesses in Connecticut to offer their employees child care services, which is why he proposed legislation this session to provide businesses with a corporate tax credit of 25% of the cost of any child care cost subsidies they provide to their employees. He included it in the fiscal year 2024-2025 biennial budget proposal that he presented to the General Assembly last month, which is currently under consideration by lawmakers. The proposal applies to businesses that provide on-site child care services, as well as to those that subsidize their employees’ child care costs in community-based settings.
Membership and planning process of the Connecticut Blue-Ribbon Panel on Child Care
The following people will serve as members of the Connecticut Blue-Ribbon Panel on Child Care:
- Chair: Beth Bye, commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood
- State Senator Eric Berthel (R-Watertown), ranking member of the Education Committee
- Audette Bisaillon, director of the ROSCCO After School Activity Program
- Emily Byrne, executive director of Connecticut Voices for Children
- Shawn Coyne, vice president of human resources for General Dynamics Electric Boat
- State Representative Jeff Currey (D-East Hartford, Manchester), co-chair of the Education Committee
- Chris DiPentima, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association
- Jamie Eden, senior vice president of human resources and communications for Boehringer Ingelheim
- State Representative Kathleen McCarty (R-Waterford), ranking member of the Education Committee
- Dr. Monette Ferguson, executive director of the Alliance for Community Empowerment
- Diana Jepsen, community member and former communications specialist for several Fortune 500 companies, including GE, United Technologies, Cigna, and Covidien
- Dr. William (Billy) Johnson, director of educational strategy for the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund
- Courtney Larkin, vice president of government relations for Travelers
- Carmelita Valencia-Daye, professor in early childhood education for Gateway Community College
- Althea Marshall-Brooks, executive director of Waterbury Bridge to Success Community Partnership
- State Senator Douglas McCrory (D-Hartford, Bloomfield, Windsor), co-chair of the Education Committee
- Garrett Moran, former chairperson of the Governor’s Workforce Council and former president of Year Up
- Kailyn Nadeau, co-director and teacher for the Norfolk Early Learning Center
- Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents
- Jessica Sager, co-founder and CEO of All Our Kin
- Melissa Turner, chief human resources officer for the Yale New Haven Health System
- Karen Lott, executive director of the Women’s League Child Development Center
- Maria Del Pilar Vargas, member of the Office of Early Childhood’s Parent Cabinet and educational coach for licensed family child care providers for United Way
The panel will focus on four key areas, including equity and access; workforce and quality; early childhood systems; and funding and costs. These work groups will be informed by the input of staff from the Office of Early Childhood, as well as stakeholders and advisors, leveraging current initiatives in Connecticut and best practices from other states.
The Connecticut Early Childhood Cabinet, the Office of Early Childhood’s Parent Cabinet, and the Office of Early Childhood’s Steering Committee will be essential partners with the panel, providing expertise, input, and feedback. Additionally, robust public input will provide valuable contributions to the panel. A schedule of upcoming public listening sessions will be published on the panel’s website at www.ctoec.org/blue-ribbon-panel.
The panel’s first meeting will be held in April to initiate a planning process and brief its members about the landscape of early childhood care in Connecticut and look at other models, as well. An educational forum in May will focus on workforce and quality. Following that, the panel will hold monthly meetings throughout the spring and summer, with topical public hearings before each meeting. All of the panel’s meetings will be open to the public. The goal is to provide Governor Lamont with a final report in December.
**Download: Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 23-1