A coalition of public childcare providers is working on a bill that would make childcare more affordable by ensuring parents pay no more than 7% of their annual income for care.
The statewide effort follows a similar attempt at the federal level, which failed last month when Virginia Sen. Joe Machin said he would not support omnibus “Build Back Better” legislation.
Now, a group of more than 400 educators have come together to call on the state to provide the funds needed to improve the system. This funding would guarantee decent wages for educators, provide supplies to early childhood education centers and allow for subsidized tuition for parents.
“It’s clear to everyone that the system is broken,” said Merrill Gay, executive director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance.
Georgia Goldburn, executive director of Hope for New Haven Child Development Center, spoke on behalf of her center and others across Connecticut who are struggling to stay open without adequate funding.
“I’m so disappointed that we’re having this conversation,” she said.
Goldburn said her center was only closed for two weeks at the height of the pandemic in April 2020, but has not closed since. She explained that her center was determined to stay open so that parents have a safe space to send their children. As child care centers showed up for parents and children, she stressed that the state was not reciprocating.
“This state does not arise for us,” she concluded.
Allyx Schiavone, executive director of the Friends Center for Children in New Haven, also explained the need for funding to benefit children in the state whose basic needs are met through proper child care.
“High-quality child care is not created until a child’s basic needs are met,” she said.
Unlike other services, the cost of childcare is borne solely by parents, with little government assistance. Additionally, during the pandemic, parents continue to pay for their child’s place even if the child has been quarantined or unable to attend the center.
Gay expressed the seriousness of the problem in his closing remarks.
“Childcare is the biggest expense a parent has to face,” he said, “the industry needs a lifeline,” he concluded.
Representative Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, explained that the committee is currently looking into the possibility of forgiving daycare loans in order to resolve the problem.
“We are currently reviewing how many child care centers have received loans from the state and whether it would be possible to make those loans repayable in whole or in part,” said Linehan, co-chair of the Children’s Committee. “This is something we can raise in our committee if it provides relief and keeps daycares open. The state needs daycares open so parents can get back to work.