Last year, the Hartford Foundation announced its decision to engage in a broad range of public policy activity to bring the local and regional perspective on early childhood and K-12 education issues to our state government. Engagement in public policy will allow our investments to be more far-reaching, sustainable and responsive to critical community issues. This year, the Foundation is continuing these efforts to help spur innovation and guide informed decision-making so all of our children have the opportunity to thrive in school and in life.
As a community foundation, we are uniquely positioned to serve as a nexus between our grantees, residents and community leaders in the Greater Hartford region and state agency and legislative policymakers. For example, our staff is currently serving on two legislative policy workgroups. Richard Sussman serves on the Two-Generation Policy Workgroup charged with establishing a plan to address intergenerational barriers to school readiness and economic success for low-income families. Sara Sneed serves on the English Language Learners and Educational Equity Task Force convened by House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, and charged with helping the state legislature understand the needs of Connecticut’s English Language Learners (ELLs) and improve their educational outcomes.
In addition, we provide public testimony to urge policymakers to learn from our investments and the experience of our communities and partners. We recently submitted testimony to the Appropriations and Education Committees outlining our vision to achieve equity and opportunity to promote the developmental and educational success of children in the region. We supported full-day kindergarten as a two-generation strategy to promote better outcomes for children and relieve the burden of child care costs for low-income working families. We also supported a bill to increase the hours of bilingual education available to ELLs as one strategy to increase equitable outcomes for all children. At the same time, our testimony highlighted some potential areas of concern in Governor Malloy’s proposed budget which makes cuts that harm the quality of the state’s early education network and move away from a family-centered, holistic approach to the developmental and education success of children that must begin at birth and continue through high school. The Foundation urged the Committees to ensure that public policy and funding build and sustain partnerships among educators, youth, families and community providers to ensure that children have equitable access to an array of high-quality supports both inside and outside the school walls.
Richard Sussman testified before the Human Services Committee on a bill that would require the creation of pilot two-generational model programs that promote long-term economic success for low-income families. Sussman discussed the Foundation’s extensive investment in in two-generation models that recognize that the well-being and life success of parents and children are interdependent. The Foundation also submitted testimony on a related Senate bill before the Human Services Committee that would require the implementation of a two-generational school readiness and workforce development plan, suggesting modifications to reflect national and statewide best practice and the system building required for implementation and sustainability.
We will keep you informed about our efforts to address the educational disparities in our region and advocate that even in the toughest financial climate, education for all children remain a top budgetary and policy priority.
Hartford Foundation testimony in support of Governor's Bill 942, An Act Implementing the Budget Recommendations of the Governor Concerning Education; S.B. 743, An Act Establishing Full-Day Kindergarten; H.B. 6835, An Act Concerning English Language Learners; (PDF)