A union leader says family care providers have prevailed in a dispute with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood over which types of childcare providers may receive subsidies from a federal grant.
Initially, the Office of Early Childhood drafted regulations that would have required family members caring for children under the age of three to become licensed.
Helene Figueroa, director of childcare at CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, said last week that she hadn’t seen a final draft of the plan, but believes the union prevailed in removing that requirement.
“We’re okay. We reached a compromise,” Figueroa said.
Maggie Adair, a spokeswoman for the office, confirmed that the state was dropping its proposal to limit subsidized family care. The revised plan will continue to provide subsidies for unlicensed relatives providing childcare up to the age of 13.
The revised plan will also continue to mandate a three and a half hour training, which includes sections on child development and health and safety, for those providing care.
Under the new rules, which must be submitted to the federal government by March 1 and will go into place on July 1, First Aid as well as CPR training will also be required. Figueroa and Adair both said this addition to the law was common sense.
Ben Phillips, a spokesman for the CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, said that the way this situation has been handled by the administration has been part a “pattern of behavior” in which the state expresses their desire for partnership, but then presents a deal without any collaboration.
Phillips, however, credited the office for taking workers concerns into consideration and reforming parts of the plan accordingly.
Figueroa likewise referenced this “pattern” and said that if childcare workers had been included from the start, the state could have avoided all the trouble of drafting “complicated and unnecessary” regulations.
Myra Jones-Taylor, Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood, said that the plan “emphasizes high-quality care.”
“We listened to the voices of parents, providers and community leaders and responded to their important feedback,” Jones-Taylor said. “The OEC believes that sound and practical decisions must be made with community voices at the table.”
The childcare subsidy program, also known as Care 4 Kids, currently provides subsidies for 5,817 children in unregulated family care, according to data published by the state.
The state is required to finalize the plan by March 1.