Sector Update: Early Childhood Education (ECE) June 2024

Stemming from Social Impact Partners’ impactful involvement in supporting the development of the Governor’s five-year Blue Ribbon Plan for early childcare and education, Governor Lamont recently passed two pieces of legislation, HB5002 and SB14, to prioritize ECE and childcare in Connecticut. Social Impact Partners’ Director of Early Childhood Education Karen Lott shared, “Social Impact Partners played a central role in the [Blue Ribbon Plan] being developed and had a lot of influence on what was included in the plan.” Marking a groundbreaking shift in the system, this pivotal step signifies a positive investment in the future of young children, ensuring they have access to high-quality education and care. Our partner, Child Care for CT, was instrumental in advocating for the elements in this legislation and we are so proud to see their mission in action!

Social Impact Partners’ overarching goal in this sector is to develop an equitable, affordable, accessible, and high-quality ECE system, that truly works for families, providers, and communities. Current sector initiatives are centered around ensuring that children and families have access to high-quality ECE, with a focus on marginalized communities and children from low-income households who benefit greatly from early formalized learning opportunities. Through a close collaboration on capacity building with the Office of Early Childhood Education (OEC), efforts are underway to build a stronger educational workforce, address program quality, expand funding, and increase childcare capacity, particularly in underserved areas, such as the southeastern part of the state. Lott shared, “They don’t have many childcare options and they don’t have many childcare providers or centers.” This emphasizes the importance of improving access to quality childcare, which is essential to help parents go to work and provide children with a solid academic foundation.

It is crucial to consider how early childhood education is interconnected with other areas to understand why accessible, available, and high-quality childcare is so important. The low wages for early childhood educators can deter people from choosing this path, ultimately affecting the pipeline of future early childhood educators and the workforce, leading to a shortage of experienced, credentialed teachers. Noting that these “pieces of work are going hand in hand”, Lott highlighted the important role that ECE has in building a better future for our children, families, workforce and economy.

Our nonprofit capacity-building work in the sector continues with our active nonprofit community partners Child Care for Connecticut’s Future and Thames Valley Community Action Council. We are conducting due diligence with several providers and expect to launch new projects in the next month or so. With projects focused on strategic planning, field building, succession planning, fiscal cost modeling and program design, partners will be able to utilize their unique skills and expertise to work in tandem with the leadership of several ECE high-quality programs to help foster innovation, program growth and sustainability. All volunteer partners who are potentially interested in engaging on an ECE project are invited to reach out to Skye Cornell (skye@socialimpactpartners.org).

(Governor Ned Lamont signing bills HB5002 and SB14 at Friends Center for Children in New Haven, CT on June 18, 2024.)

(Governor Ned Lamont signing bills HB5002 and SB14 at Friends Center for Children in New Haven, CT on June 18, 2024.)