Connecticut Voices for Children was incorporated in October of 1995 by four women incredible women — Shelley Geballe, Janice Gruendel, Nancy Lustman, and Judy Solomon. All were working full-time in the model of citizen advocacy. All shared a dream that Connecticut could do better for its children. Called initially, “Citizens for Connecticut’s Children and Youth,” the organization had no staff nor office, but it did have a bold vision.
In 1998, the organization changed its name to “Connecticut Voices for Children” and moved to what would be its permanent home on 33 Whitney Avenue in New Haven, Connecticut. Since then, it has produced hundreds of reports and advocated on behalf of all the state’s children.
Started planning to put bold vision and big ideas into action through conversations around an old dining room table and on second-hand sofas with a computer box as a work table. Organization incorporated as “Citizens for Connecticut’s Children and Youth” in October.
Launched ConneCT ’96, under the leadership of (now Congressman) John Larson, recruiting 4,000 Connecticut volunteers to help wire Connecticut’s public schools and libraries for Internet access over an eight month period. Launched first website, CTKidslink, with the help of a grant from Graustein Memorial Fund, the first foundation to support our work. Helped found Camp Totokett, a summer camp run primarily by volunteers for children living in families with HIVAIDS. Prepared series of reports exploring implications of state’s transition to managed care in Medicaid, and its plans to “reform” welfare.
Began work in state fiscal analysis with publication of a 100 page report, The Connecticut State Budget: Not a Mater of Wealth but of Will, which analyzed revenue and spending trends, critiqued some recent budget decisions and presented options for better choices. Partnered with 40 different organizations to display children’s art work in the corridor connecting the Legislative Office Building and the State Capitol.
Changed organization’s name to “Connecticut Voices for Children.” Sent out first addition of E-Notes, Connecticut Voices’ electronic newsletter. Launched Connecticut’s Promise: First for Kids, a campaign to increase the attention paid to children’s issues in Connecticut. Successfully lobbied for stricter regulation of pesticide applications in schools and daycare centers and for greater infusion of technology in public schools.
Gave Connecticut Voices’ First for Kids awards for the first time. Released a Special Report on Technology and K-12 Education. Began work on the Connecticut Parent Tech Academy and convened the CT Girls & Technology Network to increase the interest and competence of girls in technology (an initiative later moved to the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund).
Formally partnered with EARN (the Economic Analysis and Research Network) to publish our now annual State of Working Connecticut for the first time. Began work in early care and education, including creating and staffing the Early Care and Education Alliance. Appointed to Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Mental Health; helped develop Commission’s plan.
Expanded work in early care and education. Co-led and became fiscal sponsor for One CT (formerly the Campaign to End Poverty and Build Economic Security). Co-founded Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance.
Held first State Tax and Budget Forum, a now annual event that provides an in-depth look at the budget and emerging fiscal issues, which was recognized by Voices for America’s Children as a model and was replicated in other states. Selected to join the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ State Priorities Partnership (formerly the State Fiscal Analysis Initiative Network). Began our Associate Policy Fellows program and partnered with Professor Jay Pottenger to establish an innovated legislative clinic at Yale Law School with Connecticut Voices as the client.
Expanded health policy work and assumed management of the Covering Connecticut’s Kids and Families Initiative to expand Medicaid enrollment.
Became one of ten state partners in the Pew Charitable Trust’s Fostering Results Initiative to reform federal financing of child welfare services. Created and distributed, for the first time, Legislative Briefing Book and Candidate Briefing Book. Developed and released now annual HUSKY Eligibility Manual. Served on Advisory Group of federal Court Monitor in foster care class action case Advisory Council to Child Advocate. Released Immigration in Connecticut, a summary of Census data and projections.
Held first Legislative Breakfast to introduce Voices’ work to newly-elected legislators. With Partnership for Strong Communities, began the Inventive Ideas speaker series at The Lyceum, with the initial presentation by David Shipler, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Working Poor. With American Council on Adoptable Children, held Forum on Promoting Permanent Families. Became site for Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, an effort to improve life outcomes for youth aging out of foster care.
Held 5th annual Budget Forum with presentations by International Editor of Fortune Magazine, Yale University’s Jacob Jacker, the Chief Counsel of the Minority Office of the U.S. House Budget Committee, and OPM Secretary Robert Genuario. Published a first-in-the-nation report on trends in health care for children born to mothers on Medicaid, based on linked HUSKY enrollment records, Department of Public Health birth records, and HUSKY health care encounter records. Worked with Columbia University’s National Center on Children in Poverty to update Family Resource simulator; provided data and research to inform effort to adopt state EITC; participated in Connecticut Economic Resource Council workgroup to produce Benchmarking Connecticut 2006.
Launched new website. Released State of Working Connecticut with a new frame focused on growing an inclusive middle class. Released Lack of State Funding Raises Risk of an Inaccurate 2020 Census Count to highlight the need for Census planning and funding for education and outreach.