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Seeking to boost access and cut costs, CT leaders celebrate steps to support child care sector

Gov. Ned Lamont during a bill signing ceremony Tuesday June 18, 2024 at the Friends Center for Children in New Haven. L to R, State Rep. Kathleen McCarty, State Rep. Michelle Cook, State Rep. Kate Farrar, Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye.
Michayla Savitt
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Connecticut Public
Gov. Ned Lamont during a bill signing ceremony Tuesday, June 18, 2024 at the Friends Center for Children in New Haven. L to R, State Rep. Kathleen McCarty, State Rep. Michelle Cook, State Rep. Kate Farrar, Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye.

New laws in Connecticut are geared towards making child care and early childhood education more affordable and accessible to residents, as the state attempts to address a child care crisis.

The short- and long-term efforts were highlighted at a bill signing ceremony Gov. Ned Lamont held Tuesday at the Friends Center for Children in New Haven.

One of the new laws consolidates Connecticut’s three existing early childhood programs into one, “Early Start CT,” effective July 1, 2025. The goal is to cut back red tape for people seeking or providing child care in the state.

The measure also widens the eligibility of Connecticut’s Care 4 Kids program, which helps low- to moderate-income families afford child care.

“The work is not done, we know that,” Beth Bye, Connecticut’s early childhood commissioner, said. “But the advances that will take place in the bill recognize the value of this industry and its impact on young children, families and communities.”

Bye said this will allow thousands more families to be eligible for the state program.

The other law highlighted on Tuesday created the infrastructure for a child care “trust fund.” The trust is intended to be funded through philanthropic donations. Initially, the law proposed this session requested millions in state dollars to begin the investment, but the Lamont administration was concerned about the proposed structure taking the state off-budget.

While the fund still needs initial investment, Emily Byrne, executive director of Connecticut Voices for Children, said it provides hope for the industry.

“For the first time there is a real possibility that the early childhood and education care system will be funded like the critical infrastructure we all know it is,” Byrne said at the ceremony.

The law also directs a one-time $1,800 payment to state-run child care center workers in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. She has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.

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