Public Sector Solutions, Children & Families, Strategic Program Design & Management

The U.S. child care industry is in crisis. We are witnessing this acutely through our work in partnership with the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) in Connecticut. Early childhood educators are critically underpaid and are often left to bear the burden of an underfunded system that is both unaffordable for families and unsustainable for providers. The pandemic has only exacerbated these issues, with programs unable to adequately compensate workers and therefore unable to recruit and retain staff.

The OEC recognizes the difficult and essential work that underpaid and overworked staff in child care programs perform—work for children, families, and communities—and are seeking to leverage local, state, and federal resources to address this crisis.

Helping reimagine child care

Governor Ned Lamont’s 2024 Budget Proposal (S.B. 981) includes several new budget items that leverage state and federal resources to expand access to child care in Connecticut. These budget items include:

  • increased funding for Care 4 Kids, the state’s child care subsidy program;
  • an increased tax credit for businesses to build on-site child care centers or provide subsidies to employees to pay for child care;
  • and the new Connecticut Blue Ribbon Panel on Child Care led by the OEC Commissioner Beth Bye.

Social Finance is supporting OEC in this important strategic planning effort to reimagine a child care system that works for children, families, providers, and the Connecticut economy. We’re providing research, analytic, and strategic facilitation support to two of the panel’s working groups—one focused on workforce and quality and another focused on systems.

In parallel with this long-term planning work, we’re helping OEC  identify new ways to use Preschool Development Grant and American Rescue Plan Act funds to make an impact, including providing cash awards to qualified, licensed child care professionals in Connecticut.

Recently, our team supported another OEC working group assembled to design a new wage supplements program through the agency’s existing Wage Supports for Early Childhood Educators Initiative, which was created via the passage of Public Act 19-61. This two-phase initiative provides $70 million in state funds to licensed child care centers and state-funded programs to help them recruit and retain early childhood educators. The second phase of this work launched in March 2023 and will provide licensed child care centers and state-funded programs $1,700 bonuses for each full-time educator hired and $650 bonuses for each part-time educator hired, with additional bonus opportunities for centers or programs who work in locations that rank high on the Center for Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index or employ staff listed on the OEC Professional Registry.    

Building toward better options

Learnings from the implementation of these initiatives will inform how OEC supports staff, administrators, communities, and families. While these programs alone can’t address the systemic challenges that impact the child care ecosystem, they do provide a strong foundation on which to build a better future. 

Social Finance is committed to partnering with the agency; its local, state, and federal government partners; national child care organizations; and others to forge an effective, equitable, and sustainable system that ensures every child has a quality foundation that will prepare them to grow, learn, and succeed. And it all starts with making sure experienced child care educators and professionals in Connecticut and elsewhere have the support they need to thrive.

Learn more about our Public Sector Solutions →

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