To tackle the serious challenges that Connecticut children face today and to ensure meaningful opportunities for their success, we need to make significant systems changes. In 2014, Connecticut Voices for Children helped to achieve legislative victories that move us down the path towards systems reform and build support for thriving families, healthy child development and educational success. Our new 2014 legislative summary details what recent policy changes mean for Connecticut kids. Some highlights:
- More children will have opportunities for high-quality early education. State policymakers recognized the importance of high-quality education for our state’s youngest and most vulnerable children by passing crucial legislation to formally create the Office of Early Childhood and to expand access to prekindergarten.
- More families will be able to support their children. State policymakers rejected efforts to derail a planned increase in the state earned-income tax credit (EITC) for Fiscal Year 2015. The EITC is a proven, efficient, anti-poverty tool that encourages participation in the workforce, improves tax fairness for low-income families, and improves outcomes for kids in households receiving the credit.
- State agencies will share data to track the recidivism rates of juvenile offenders. Without measuring recidivism, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is unable to evaluate whether its programs and services are working. Connecticut Voices supported legislation that will require DCF and the Judicial Department to share information for this purpose.
- The State will continue to share data and fund performance monitoring of the HUSKY program. Without independent tracking and oversight, families may not get the HUSKY health coverage or the care they need — and no one will know. State funding that supports this monitoring was approved in the final budget.
- A newly appointed commission will study the state’s tax system and evaluate its fairness for Connecticut families. Connecticut’s low-income families pay a higher share of their income in state and local taxes than the state’s wealthiest residents. With our encouragement, policymakers commissioned a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the array of Connecticut taxes on families and businesses.
- More children in State care will have the support they need to obtain a high-quality education. Children in State care often miss out on quality educational experiences because of their involvement in the foster care or juvenile justice systems. We supported legislation requiring the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Judicial Branch to promptly assess whether children and youth who enter their school programs require special education and related services. The bill also requires all schools to share educational information for youth in DCF care with the Department, as well as the foster parents and attorney for the child or youth.
Unfortunately, legislators failed to approve several other important pieces of legislation, and we’ll be back next year to make sure this unfinished work is completed. See our full legislative summary for more details.
Your calls and e-mails to policymakers, along with your contributions to Connecticut Voices for Children, are central to our success in moving forward a positive agenda for Connecticut’s kids. Thank you for your support!