Office of Early Childhood: comprehensive access from policy to grassroots

Connecticut has put itself on the map by ensuring significant strides in children’s right to quality education and access for parents to social services through Governor Dan Malloy’s Executive Order Number 11 creating the Office of Early Childhood.  While the bill to create the office did not pass, it was included in the biennium state budget, which did.

With the Executive Order signed, key stakeholders have jumped in and begun working to get the initiative up and running. The goal of the Office of Early Childhood is to close the achievement gap and help better prepare children for the future.

The Office of Early Childhood is responsible for providing “a comprehensive, collaborative system for delivering improved programs and services to children age zero to five and their parents.” The Office is “comprised of related programs that were previously housed in five separate state agencies — the Department of Education’s School Readiness program, the Department of Social Services’ Care for Kids, Children’s Trust Fund, and other childcare programs, the Department of Public Health’s childcare licensing program, the Department of Developmental Services’ Birth to Three program, and the Board of Regents’ Charts a Course program — the OEC will improve continuity and the reach of early childhood programs.”

The office will ensure access to services, as well as knowledge of services available, are made both accessible and readily available in a more streamline and coherent manner. The office will provide both, cost and time savings – and, to be frank,  a sense of sanity to anyone who has had to run from office to office to figure out what exactly a family or child is rightfully entitle to.

Following the Governor’s Executive Order, he appointed the previous director of the Office of Early Childhood Planning,  Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, as the Executive Director of the Office.  Dr. Jones-Taylor brings significant experience and education to the position.  She “is a cultural anthropologist with expertise in early care and education policy.  Her research focused on the effects of early care and education reform on child care providers in low-income urban communities and the children and families who are intended to benefit from those reforms.”

The planning and of the Office (including original conception design, preliminary funding, and advocacy support) was made possible by support from the William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund, the Early Childhood Alliance, and the Early Childhood Collaborative Funders,  which include the following: American Savings Foundation, Children’s Fund of Connecticut, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, Connecticut Community Foundation, Connecticut Network of Community Foundations, Fairfield County Community Foundation, The Fund for Greater Hartford, William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, The Grossman Family  Foundation, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Liberty Bank Foundation, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.

 

Below is a list of Bills specific to the Office that passed in the 2013 Legislative session (now closed):
 
S.B. 887 – An Act Concerning the Care4Kids Program – P.A. 13-50
S.B. 972 – An Act Concerning the Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Health of Youths – P.A. 13-178
S.B. 1002 – An Act Concerning Community Schools – P.A. 13-64 
S.B. 1096 – An Act Concerning Governance of the State Education Resource Center – P.A. 13-286
S.B 1160 – An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety – P.A. 13-3
S.B. 1137 – An Act Concerning the Definition of School-Based Health Centers – P.A. 13-187
H.B. 6506 – An Act Concerning State-Funded Child Care Facilities – P.A. 13-16
H.B. 6525 – An Act Childhood Obesity and Physical Exercise in Schools – P.A. 13-173
H.B. 6624 – An Act Concerning Minor Revisions to the Education Statutes – P.A. 13-122
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