A chart showing sources of funding for Connecticut's child care operators and the growing shortfall.

Leaders of child care operations say costs have gone up steadily in the last four years, due to inflation and the state’s rising minimum wage. But during that time, most of the state’s subsidies to child care operators have remained flat, and federal pandemic emergency funding is now being phased out. 

“We need systemic funding,” said Marc Jaffe, chief executive of Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County. Jaffe said state subsidies, which cover about $8,900 per student at his facilities, would need to rise to $14,500 per student in order to stabilize his operation. “That will create a sustainable funding stream for the industry. That will allow us to invest, increase wages, and make us able to at least [be on] a somewhat more level playing field.”

Lamont, who has repeatedly emphasized fiscal discipline even as the state’s surplus reaches record levels, said Friday that he’s open to increased funding for child care if the panel recommends it.

“We do a lot of subsidies, perhaps we ought to be doing even more,” he said. “We’ll hear from each and every one of you on that.”

Read more: Lamont signs executive order on strategic plan for CT child care system