We are delighted that the Connecticut legislature and Governor Malloy have approved a $1.1 billion jobs bill that will foster economic growth and job creation. We are especially pleased that the jobs bill focuses on small businesses, and includes money for loans and tax credits for new hires and job training.

While for many, however, “small business” invokes images of local retailers, we want to emphasize the importance of investing in one of our society’s most undervalued and invisible small businesses – family child care.

Investing in family child care providers is critical in these times of economic crisis, not just because family child care providers care for the majority of our most vulnerable infants and toddlers, but because investing in them has the potential to boost the state economy. A recent study conducted by the University of Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis confirms that for every $1 spent on All Our Kin’s New Haven-based family child care training program, there is a $15-$20 return to the New Haven region in terms of gross regional product (GRP).

The program trains family child care providers, of whom 98 percent are women, helping them become licensed and empowering them with the resources and training they need to run a successful small business and high-quality child care. The study demonstrates that:

* Sixty percent of providers earned $5,000 more the first year after licensure and 45 percent of providers earned at least $10,000 more the second year.

* The average income of program graduates was $23,000 per year, 10.4 percent higher than the regional average.

* By increasing the availability of flexible, affordable, high-quality child care, the program also enables more low-income parents to work; the study estimates that for every child care provider licensed through the program, four to five parents entered the work force.

Between 2006 and 2009, All Our Kin’s program generated $18.4 million in additional tax revenue and $15.2 million in gross regional product (GRP) – for New Haven alone. We plan to replicate the program throughout the state, and hope that the results of the study encourage others to invest in family child care providers.

In doing so, Connecticut can build upon a proven community development model that improves the state economy, ensures that child care professionals succeed as business owners and gives low-income parents the support they need to work.

It also provides our children, the work force of tomorrow, with the educational foundation they need to succeed in school and beyond. Children in high-quality early childhood education programs are less likely to be held back, drop out of school, go on welfare, or commit crime. According to studies, every dollar invested in early childhood education today saves the public eight dollars later.

When that figure is combined with the immediate economic impact, it is easy to see that investing in our children, and those who teach and care for them, is the best of investments: the social benefits are enormous and the economic return rate is high – both today and for years to come.

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