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New ‘parent cabinet’ hopes to elevate caregivers of young children statewide

U.S. Army
A new parent-member cabinet will help facilitate communication between parents statewide and the Office of Early Childhood.

A parent-led advisory group will work with the state Office of Early Childhood to improve programs, policies and laws related to young children and their families.

The Office of Early Childhood oversees Care 4 Kids, a program that helps pay for child care costs in moderate- to low-income families; state home visits to expectant parents and caregivers of children under the age of 5; licensing for centers that care for children; and the birth-to-3 program for children requiring developmental intervention.

“I am grateful that this group of parents from across Connecticut are dedicating their time to ensure that families with young children have a voice in their state government,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “Their input will help shape the policies that are directly impacting families.”

Beth Bye, commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood, said the partnership “will ensure that policies are family-driven and not just program-driven.”

Members commit to a two-year term and are paid a $25 hourly stipend, which is federally funded, for 48 hours of work each year.

Members are:

Kaitlyn Heffernan, Stratford

Bianca Shinn-Desras, Stamford

Steven Cousin, New Haven

Symone Maguire, Hamden

Ruth-Ann Bucknor, Middletown

Marinda Monfilston, Cromwell

Caitlin McNamara, Manchester

Carla Abdo-Katsipis, West Hartford

Krysta Chambers, West Hartford

Christina Augliera, Torrington

Maria Vargas, Danbury

Joshua Vaughn, Naugatuck

Ivoni Montes, Wethersfield

Casey Russo, Meriden

Nine members are parents with young children aged 5 and below who use Office of Early Childhood support, including the Care 4 Kids subsidy, home visiting and the birth-to-3 program.

“Parents and caregivers are raising children day in and day out, and the work of the parent cabinet helps to uplift these voices to the point where they can bring ideas, solutions and issues regarding child care to the state level,” said Symone Maguire, a resident of Hamden and mom of two who will serve on the cabinet.

The cabinet can be reached at OEC.ParentCabinet@ct.gov for comments or concerns.