Over the past six months, Connecticut Voices for Children has engaged in research and advocacy to improve the well-being of kids and families across the state. Our efforts have been cited by both elected officials and news media as playing an important role in the advancement of family-friendly legislation and the development of a more equitable budget.
Highlights of our work this session include:
- Helping Youth in Care Make the Transition to Adulthood
We hosted our 4th annual Youth at the Capitol Day event that brought over 50 youth involved with DCF and foster care to advocate for themselves in front of legislative leaders and policymakers. This culminated in the passage of legislation that will give youth in foster care a greater voice in their permanency planning, identify important adults with whom they have relationships, and visit their siblings to maintain important family connections.
- Keeping Children in the Classroom
We published a comprehensive report that analyzed student arrests, expulsions, and suspensions and made recommendations to help keep kids in class. This led to the passage of legislation that will reduce the use of exclusionary school discipline by requiring greater communication and collaboration between schools and police, creating a clear and consistent definition of students arrests, and disaggregating and making public student arrest data by race, gender, ethnicity, free and reduced price lunch status, and English Language Learner status.
- Tracking Investments in Early Care and Education
In May, we analyzed the Legislature's budget proposal, both overall and with a separate brief focusing on early care and education. We also published our Early Care and Education Data Tables and a series of blog posts analyzing Connecticut's investment in early care and education, the number of children served, the settings in which they were served, and the educational attainment of the early childhood workforce. This longitudinal analysis helped to shape the conversation on legislative priorities for early childhood throughout the session, and acts as an invaluable resource for the early childhood community.
- Protecting Children and Families in the Proposed Budget
We analyzed the effect of the Governor's budget proposal on programs affecting children and families, and produced a separate brief specifically examining early care and education. These briefs highlighted the unfair cuts contained within the budget proposal,which disproportionately affected programs and services that serve children and families.
- Finding the Resources to Support the Children's Budget
We released a brief detailing a number of options to raise revenue to fund services for vulnerable children and families. When the Legislature released its revenue package in April, the majority of these ideas were included.
In June, the final budget passed by the Legislature contained the full or partial restoration of many of the cuts we opposed, including health coverage for pregnant women and low-income parents, developmental services, education and programs such as Community Plans for Early Childhood, Improving Early Literacy, and Help Me Grow. Funding for such services included numerous sources of revenue first advocated by Voices.
- Supporting Sustainable Budgeting
In April, we were invited to present to the Finance Committee regarding reforms to the state's Rainy Day Fund. Citing our involvement, the committee unanimously approved these reforms, which were included in the final budget.
Throughout the session, we worked with a number of elected officials who spoke up on behalf of children. Please take a few minutes now to call your local legislators, along with the legislative leadership listed below and the Governor, and thank them for their hard work this session.
Leadership Contact Information:
Senate President Martin Looney
(800) 842-1420; Looney@senatedems.ct.gov
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff
(860) 240-0414; Duff@senatedems.ct.gov
Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey
(800) 842-1902; Brendan.Sharkey@cga.ct.gov
House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz
(800) 842-1902; Joe.Aresimowicz@cga.ct.gov
Appropriations Committee Co-Chairs:
Senator Beth Bye
(800) 842-1420; Beth.Bye@senatedems.gov
Representative Toni Walker
(860) 240-8585; Toni.Walker@cga.ct.gov
Finance, Bonding & Revenue Committee Co-Chairs:
Senator John Fonfara
(800) 842-1420; John.Fonfara@senatedems.gov
Representative Jeffrey Berger
(800) 842-1902; Jeffrey.Berger@cga.ct.gov
Contact Information for the Governor:
Governor Dannel Malloy
(800) 406-1527; Governor.Malloy@ct.gov
We could not do this work without your support. Thank you for continuing to be a strong voice for children!