HARTFORD – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy chose the Institute for the Hispanic Family, a service of Catholic Charities located at 45 Wadsworth St., for his Feb. 4 announcement of a plan to coordinate services aimed at improving outcomes for Connecticut’s youngest children.
The initiative, which must first pass the General Assembly, would pull services from the Department of Social Services, Department of Education, Department of Public Health, Board of Regents and the Department of Developmental Services to form an Office of Early Childhood Education. Stating that the new office would "fundamentally transform how we address early childhood issues in the state," Gov. Malloy said the initiative would be phased in over two years and would improve continuity, access and outreach.
"It represents a fundamental shift in how we provide the best care and services for our children," he said.
The legislative package he is proposing would need to be looked at by several committees, according to Senator Beth Bye (D-S05), chair of the Higher Education Committee, who told the Transcript, "I think there will be wide support for it."
Myra Jones-Taylor, director of the Office of Early Childhood Planning, said that the proposal is in response to her office’s extensive face-to-face meetings with parents and educators who said they needed a simpler way of accessing state agencies dealing with early childhood development. "We have programs strewn throughout five different agencies," she said. "But we are not doing enough. There is no unified vision around what we need for early childhood development."
Creation of the new agency would cost about $370,000 in new funding for the first year and about $280,000 in the second fiscal year, Gov. Malloy said. The Transcript asked if he expected a long-term savings, and he replied, "Yes, every time you invest a dollar, you hope you’re saving something on the other end. We know that early childhood education, for instance, is the best educational investment we can make."
Asked why he chose the IHF to make the announcement, the governor said, "Well, it’s a great place, and obviously its work with and on behalf of children is deserving of note," adding with a smile– "and it’s close to the Capitol."
Lois Nesci, CEO of Catholic Charities, moderated the event, at which Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman; Rep. Edwin Vargas (D-6); Rep. Angel Arce (D-4); Rep. Michelle Cook (D-65); Senator Toni Boucher (R-S26); Rep. Robert Sanchez (D-25); Senator Andrea Stillman (D-S20), chair of Education Committee; Stefan Pryor, commissioner of the Department of Education; Roderick Bremby, commissioner of the Department of Social Services; David Title, chair of the Early Childhood Cabinet; and Jamey Bell, Child Advocate, also spoke or were present.
Ms. Nesci said the initiative would help Catholic Charities’ programs for children. "It will actually be most helpful to children and families because they will have better access to all the resources they need in a coordinated service delivery approach to be able to eradicate any barriers they have to learning," she said.