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Public Policy Update: Hartford Foundation submits testimony in support of three bills to support child care providers and working families.

On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving submitted three pieces of testimony to the Legislature's Education Committee in support of legislation to increase compensation to child care providers and working families. In recognition of the need to attract and retain more educated and experienced child care providers, the Foundation supported S.B. 931, An Act Concerning Payments to Child Care Providers to increase pay for early care and education providers in state-funded programs. The Foundation also offered its support for S.B. 932, An Act Concerning the Staff Qualifications Requirement for Early Childhood Educators to ensure that early childhood educators receive the education they need to provide high quality, culturally appropriate services to young children. The Foundation’s testimony emphasized the need to support the early childhood workforce and urged the committee to pay particular attention to supporting bilingual educators who are in high demand. The Foundation also testified in support of S.B. 934, An Act Expanding Eligibility in the Care 4 Kids Program to Parents Enrolled in Other Types of School. The Hartford Foundation strongly supports Senate Bill 934, which would extend child care subsidy eligibility to families in education and training programs. In particular,  the Foundation recommended that the committee  ensure that this bill extend Care 4 Kids to families in all job training programs. An evaluation of participants in the Foundation’s Career Pathways Initiative found that individuals across the job sites struggled with accessing child care.  Extending Care 4 Kids to families in education and training programs is an investment in our children, our families, and the vibrancy of our state economy.

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Testimony Supporting S.B. 931, An Act Concerning Payments to Child Care Providers

Education Committee March 6, 2019

Senator McCrory, Representative Sanchez, Senator Berthel, Representative McCarty , and distinguished members of the Education Committee, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is grateful for this opportunity to submit written testimony in support of Senate Bill 931, An Act Concerning Payments to Child Care Providers.

The   Hartford Foundation for Public   Giving is the community foundation for the 29-town   Greater   Hartford region. As a community foundation, we manage, grow, and distribute approximately $1billion in assets to promote equitable opportunity for all residents in our region, particularly in the areas of education, community safety, and community and economic development. Since 1987, we have invested more than $40 million in early childhood in the Greater Hartford area. It is our goal to ensure that all children, especially those most vulnerable, have access to high-quality early childhood experiences, based on national research that confirms that early childhood experiences are key to children's and families' life­ long success. The Foundation has focused on supporting early childhood policy, funding and program quality, recognizing their importance to ensuring optimal safety and learning outcomes for children, and pathways to economic security for their families and caregivers.

The Hartford Foundation supports Senate Bill 931, An Act Concerning Payments to Child Care Providers, which would increase pay for early care and education providers in state-funded programs. The quality of any early care and learning setting is directly related to the quality of the staff, their education and training and understanding of child development, and the ability to translate that understanding through effective practice.

Despite research recognizing the importance of high quality early education to healthy child development, and research that indicates that high-quality providers and educators are the single most important factors in these early experiences, too many individuals within the early earning workforce earn low wages - sometimes at or near the federal poverty line - even after they obtain credentials and higher levels of education. Low pay makes it difficult to attract and retain more experienced staff with higher levels of education to work in early care and education. This is one reason that the Hartford Foundation has made long-term investments in professional development and training opportunities for early childhood educators - but these investments do not have their desired benefits for young children when the trained providers leave to seek employment in higher­ paying sectors.

Evidence shows that when children are enrolled in centers where there is lower turnover and where providers earn higher wages, they spend more time engaged in positive interactions and developmentally appropriate activities with peers and teachers. This contributes to healthy development and school readiness. Staff turnover also undermines continuity of care, such that when providers leave, children's secure attachments and relationships are interrupted, which can influence their social-emotional and behavioral development. Turnover also affects the morale and culture of programs, which in turn affects the quality of services.

We have testified to this committee in the past about the importance of establishing a floor of adequate support for state-funded programs, in recognition of the fact that providing high-quality early child care services is expensive and requires sustained and consistent investment. We strongly support increasing provider rates, especially when increases will directly support providing living wages for educators. The quality and stability of our early care and education depends on it.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our staff at policy@hfpg.org or 860-548-1888.

  

Testimony Regarding S.B. 932, An Act Concerning the Staff Qualifications Requirement for Early Childhood Educators

Education Committee March 6, 2019

Senator McCrory, Representative Sanchez, Senator Berthel, Representative McCarty, and distinguished members of the Education Committee, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is grateful for this opportunity to submit written testimony regarding Senate Bill 932, An Act Concerning the Staff Qualifications Requirement.

The  Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for the  29-town Greater Hartford region. As a community foundation, we manage, grow, and distribute approximately  $1 billion in assets to promote equitable opportunity for all residents in our region, particularly in the areas of education, community safety, and community and economic development. Since 1987, we have invested more than $40 million in early childhood in the Greater Hartford area. It is our goal to ensure that all children, especially those most vulnerable, have access to high-quality early childhood experiences, based on national research that confirms that early childhood experiences are key to children's and families' life­ long success. The Foundation has focused on supporting early childhood policy, funding and program quality, recognizing their importance to ensuring optimal safety and learning outcomes for children, and pathways to economic security for their families and caregivers.

When considering bills like Senate Bill 932 which impact credential requirements for the early childhood workforce, we urge the committee to consider ways to support this pipeline, particularly for bilingual educators. The early childhood field is diverse both in the children and families in need of child care and in the professionals who serve them. Data from the Hartford region shows that over one-third of family child care providers requested information to be delivered in a language other than English. Language-diverse educators benefit families, many of whom prefer bilingual child care providers or providers who can communicate in the language they speak at home.

In recognition of the need for high-quality, culturally appropriate early childhood settings, the Hartford Foundation has invested in providing access to credit-bearing courses towards a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential for adults whose first language is not English. The CDA is just the first step towards a bachelor's degree, but it is one that many providers struggle to attain. Programs and legislation regarding provider credentials should consider ways to increase the number of bilingual students, particularly Spanish-dominant Latino students, who progress along the track towards the required bachelor's degree in early childhood areas.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our staff at policy@hfpg.org or 860-548-1888.

 

Testimony Supporting S.B. 934, An Act Expanding Eligibility in the Care 4 Kids Program to Parents Enrolled in Other Types of School

Education Committee March 6, 2019

Senator McCrory, Representative Sanchez, Senator Berthel, Representative McCarty, and distinguished members of the Education Committee, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is grateful for this opportunity to submit written testimony  in support of Senate Bill 934, An Act Expanding Eligibility in the Care 4 Kids Program to Parents Enrolled in Other Types of School.

The  Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for the 29-town  Greater  Hartford region. As a community foundation, we manage, grow, and distribute approximately $1 billion in assets to promote equitable opportunity for all residents in our region, particularly in the areas of education, community safety, and community and economic development. Since 1987, we have invested more than $40 million in early childhood in the Greater Hartford area. It is our goal to ensure that all children, especially those most vulnerable, have access to high-quality early childhood experiences, based on national research that confirms that early childhood experiences are key to children's and families' life­ long success. The Foundation has focused on supporting early childhood policy, funding and program quality, recognizing their importance to ensuring optimal safety and learning outcomes for children, and pathways to economic security for their families and caregivers.

The Hartford Foundation strongly supports Senate Bill 934, which would extend child care subsidy eligibility to families in education and training programs. For many working families, access to affordable, reliable, and high-quality child care and early education is both a necessity to attain and maintain a job and to foster the learning and development of their young children. For many families, Care 4 Kids is a critical program that ensures that working parents can access safe, high-quality child care in their communities while they work. Extending Care 4 Kids to families who are pursuing education or training to increase their earning potential will help families exit poverty and reach greater self-sufficiency.

In particular, we recommend that the committee ensure that this bill extends Care 4  Kids to families in  all job training programs. The Foundation has seen how essential access to childcare is in our workforce development investments. Our current work has centered on serving Greater Hartford residents who face significant challenges to securing employment. In all our workforce development efforts, we have seen the challenge of providing adequate child care services. In 2016, the Foundation implemented a Career Pathways Initiative (CPI) in nine Greater Hartford sites. Our funding supports collaborative efforts to promote engaging adult education, community college, and other job training and service providers, as well as employers.

In 2017, of the 377 participants enrolled across CPI program sites, 53 percent were women and 34 percent of all participants enrolled reported having dependent children. An evaluation of these workforce programs found that participants across  the job sites struggled with accessing child care.  One site that  focused on serving low-income women with dependent children recognized early on that child care posed one of the greatest obstacles for these women to participate in the program. This impacted recruitment and retention and the site struggled to find a reliable child care provider during training hours.

At a time when nonprofits, industry leaders, institutions of higher education, philanthropy and others are collaborating to support workforce development in Connecticut, extending Care 4 Kids to families in education and training programs is an investment in our children, our families, and the vibrancy of our state economy.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our staff at policy@hfpg.org or 860-548-1888.


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