Improving access to quality child care is at the forefront of the state legislature.
There are currently three bills in the state Senate, one in the House, all trying to fix it. But it looks like there might be a problem with delaying when it comes to this legislation.
NBC Connecticut’s Mike Hydeck spoke about it with Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye.
mike hydeck“So the governor’s director of communications recently said in an interview that it’s important to know what kind of money might come from the federal government before committing to the state proposals we have on the table. Is that also your point of view?”
Bye Beth: “You know, we are waiting for more indications from DC on the contents of this package. And so everything that we will evaluate in the legislative package. I take it into account.”
mike hydeck: “So moving forward, there is definitely bipartisan support to do something about childcare, which is nice to hear and see. But can legislation be written now to give state legislators some flexibility, basically go ahead with any or all of the state proposals now. And later, if the federal money comes in, the balance sheet is adjusted. Is that possible ? “
Bye Beth“Well, I don’t think it would happen that way, I think we need to look at what are the urgent needs that may not be covered by federal legislation, if and when it does? Because there are is in urgent need and I think the Legislature and the Office of Early Childhood are still tapping into those US federal bailout dollars in the short term If you look at what’s come out with the appropriations, and in what we have done at the Childhood Early Childhood Office, because the programs really hurt.”
mike hydeck: “Among the urgent needs that have been reported – staff at close range. Firstly, the salary they receive does not hold them back. A lot of people are quitting and there are child care centers with empty classrooms all over the Condition. What’s up with the table to try and fix this?”
Bye Beth“Yeah, that’s a great question, that’s the biggest problem. I talked to the governor about this earlier in the week. You know, in some of the lowest-paying jobs in our country, and in our state, there is a big challenge with the workforce.And unfortunately, early childhood education has been among the lowest paid professions in our state, despite their major impact on children’s brains and on the quality of early childhood settings, which we know is important both in preparing children for school and So low-wage workers, if you earn $16 in an early childhood setting, you maybe love your job, it’s really hard work, but if you can make $20 an hour at Target, when you have a family, then you have a huge labor shortage. And we are addressing that with pilot apprenticeship programs that we hope to fund in the very near future, to try to energize more people on the path to early childhood. have also invested approximately $4 million in our community and private colleges Colleges that have early childhood lab schools are trying to attract more students to the field over the longer term. So we’re able to use those US bailout dollars that way.”
mike hydeck“Is there a line item in the budget that needs to be added? I know it can be a complex funding situation because some of them are private companies and they receive public funds to help them to keep afloat and pay their staff. Can there be a commitment from the state instead of hoping to get federal funds with the bailout money?”
Bye Beth“It’s really complicated, I think that’s what people need to understand. Unlike public schools, about three-quarters of child care programs are privately owned, some for-profit and some cost effective But the majority of programs across the state We have about 25% of programs that have state funded components i.e. we can fund seats in a program or we can fund all a program with school readiness or daycare funding. And so we obviously focused on the programs that we oversee and fund and help them stay afloat with some state funds and some federal funds.”
mike hydeck: “By some estimates, it costs over $20,000 a year to put a baby or toddler in day care here in Connecticut. It’s the most among the most expensive in the country. What can we do to control really the costs on the other side of the balance sheet? Is there anything we can do about it?”
Bye Beth“I think you’ve really hit on the biggest problem in our child care ecosystem, which is toddlers, because preschool, older children in child care are actually subsidizing infants and toddlers. So we need to look at paying the full cost of high quality care for infants and toddlers, so there are strategies, some are leveraging federal funds to get to the full cost, another strategy is child care. We have invested in support for home childcare, which is a great place for families to enroll their children in We have also put forward a proposal that would relax the regulations in some way. At present, family child care centers can only take two children, two infants and toddlers and up to six children for the majority of the day. But we have offered to allow child care Family ries to accommodate six infants and toddlers if they add a second member of staff, and that’s really where the demand is. And so they could take up to nine children in total and six infants and toddlers if they had a second member of staff, which could help their bottom line and also increase capacity for infants and toddlers . »