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Meet the CT leaders changing the future for the next generation

State Comptroller Sean Scanlan.
Abigail Brone
Connecticut Public
State Comptroller Sean Scanlan.

Five state advocates were recently awarded for their work improving the lives of the state’s most vulnerable residents and youth.

The awards were administered in a ceremony in West Hartford’s Elizabeth Park on April 13 by Connecticut Voices for Children, a nonprofit think-tank that provides access to education and stable housing for children.

Awardees were State Rep. Holly Cheeseman (R- East Lyme), President of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut Maryam Elahi, Bridgeport community leader Dr. Monette Ferguson, State Comptroller Sean Scanlon and former State Treasurer Shawn T. Wooden.

Scanlon reflected on his upbringing in Guilford, raised by a single mother struggling to remain in the town where she was raised.

“Out there tonight in Connecticut and across this country there are millions of people just like my mom trying to figure out how to make it work, how to put it all together,” Scanlon said. “They’re wishing sometimes and praying sometimes that there’s somebody out there who’s going to answer that call or answer that prayer, and that can be us.”

Scanlon helped establish the state’s first child tax rebate program while serving in the state General Assembly. The program provides families a maximum of $750 ($250 per child up to three children) state tax credit. Child tax credits have been credited with reducing child poverty.

As state treasurer, Wooden helped form the state’s baby bonds program, which is intended to deposit up to $3,200 dollars into a trust for each HUSKY eligible child born in Connecticut. At 18 those funds can be used for specific expenses like higher education.

At the time of its passage, Connecticut was the first state to formally establish a baby bond program. Some researchers believe programs like baby bonds can help narrow racial wealth gaps. However, the program is currently unfounded. The program is supposed to be funded through state-issued bonds, which have yet to be initiated by Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration.

Connecticut Voices for Children hosts the First for Kids awards annually, but returned to in-person celebration last week for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

For 2023, the organization plans to focus on funding baby bonds, increasing affordable housing and universal access to early childhood education, among others.

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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