Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Friday that Myra Jones-Taylor, commissioner of the state Office of Early Childhood, will step down effective Sept. 1. She is leaving to pursue “new professional opportunities,” the governor’s office said.
Deputy Commissioner Linda Goodman will serve as acting commissioner until a replacement is named “in the coming weeks,” according to the governor’s office.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would have the good fortune of working alongside such dedicated and passionate people,” Jones-Taylor said in a statement. “Together we have accomplished great things, things many people thought would never happen in Connecticut.”
During Jones-Taylor’s three-year tenure, she successfully pushed for more capacity at publicly funded preschools, developed statewide learning standards for children from birth to age 5 and oversaw the effort to streamline a number of state programs.
Jones-Taylor is the first commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood, which became a cabinet-level agency in May 2014. Before that, she served as the Office of Early Childhood’s executive director from its creation in June 2013 until it became a cabinet-level agency.
The creation of the Office of Early Childhood allowed the state to streamline a number of programs – early care and education, Care4Kids, the Children’s Trust Fund, child care licensing, Birth to Three and Charts a Course Workforce Registry – that previously had been managed by five different state agencies.
Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman both praised Jones-Taylor for the accomplishments during her tenure. Wyman said “generations will benefit because of her leadership.”
“Under Myra’s steady leadership, Connecticut has increased access and availability of early childhood education – it’s so critical,” Malloy said. “We aim to ensure all kids enter school ready to learn, and we have made important strides during her tenure. Her passion, expertise and dedication to the well-being of children – especially those impacted by poverty – are extraordinary.”
The Office of Early Childhood had suffered a couple of setbacks in recent months, however. Jones’ Taylor’s office announced it would change eligibility requirements for state daycare or preschool subsidies, causing thousands of low-income children to lose that financial support.
The decision came as the state program responsible for overseeing a combination of state and federal subsidies, Care4Kids, received notice that federal subsidies would decrease. State lawmakers approved a budget this year that did not offset the projected $34 million in additional funding the program would need in the coming year. In June, Jones-Taylor tried unsuccessfully to lobby Congress for additional funding.
Despite the setback, Malloy’s office said Jones-Taylor’s office has brought more than $50 million in new federal grants to the state over four years.