I attended the Early Childhood Day of Action at the Capitol in March  to show my support for this cause. I testified and listened to many other supporters from different education, family, income, and professional backgrounds, testify to pass Bill S.B. No. 933 to expand eligibility for families in the Care4Kids program to include families with a gross income of up to 75 percent of the statewide median income. This bill has since been raised to the Senate and House to Committee on Appropriations.

This is an issue that is very important to me. I am currently studying at the University of Connecticut in the Early Childhood Development and Education program on the path to become an early childhood education teacher. I am completing my student teaching placement in the preschool classroom at our on-campus Child Development Laboratories.

It is essential to advocate having an increasing amount of high quality universal early childcare. This is where children first develop trust, identity, and resilience. Through high-quality early childcare like those accredited by NAEYC, children develop new skills in all domains of development. This is an issue that will impact the educational well-being and future of Connecticut’s young children and requires immediate action.

Quality early care and education programs are essential for children to learn new skills in all domains of development. The first three years of a child’s life is the age when the most foundational learning occurs. This time is especially important in terms of development and shaping of children’s future. With this policy change, more children will be able to receive high-quality care from trained professionals in early child development.

Care4Kids has received a dramatic cut in government funding. This program went from serving 22,957 children to 13,223 children, yet there are still many children and families who are being underserved. In order for parents to participate in the workforce and for children to engage in the necessary early learning experiences needed for healthy development, we must expand the income eligibility of Care4Kids to allow more low-income families access.

Time, money and energy are better spent if used on critical issues in education like the lack of high-quality childcare. Children are suffering from the decline in engaging in play which limits developing new skills, the over planning from teachers leaves children crippled to depend on others to make their own decisions in the future.

For every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education, the public saves $13 in the place of costs for special education, public assistance, unemployment benefits, and crime. Expanding eligibility for families in the Care4Kids program would greatly improve the lives of not only children and families but Connecticut taxpayers as well.

 Rachel Ho is a student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

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