Coalition of Early Child Care Providers

A coalition of state child care providers are working towards a bill that would make childcare more affordable by ensuring that parents pay no more than 7% of their annual income on care.

That statewide effort follows a similar attempt at the federal level, which failed last month when Virginia Senator Joe Machin said he wouldn’t support the omnibus “Build Back Better” legislation.

Now, a group of over 400 educators came together to ask the state to put forth the funds necessary to improve the system. This funding would ensure livable wages for educators, provide supplies for early education centers, and allow for subsidized tuition to parents.

“It is clear to everybody that the system is broken,” Merrill Gay, executive director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, said.

Georgia Goldburn, executive director at Hope for New Haven Child Development Center, spoke on behalf of her center and others across Connecticut that are struggling to stay open without adequate funding.

“I am so disappointed we are having this conversation,” she said.

Goldburn said that her center was only shut down for two weeks during the height of the pandemic in April of 2020, but has not shut down since. She explained that her center was determined to stay open in order for the parents to have a safe space to send their children. While childcare centers were showing up for parents and children, she highlighted that the state was not returning the favor.

“This state is not showing up for us,” she concluded.

Allyx Schiavone, executive director of Friends Center for Children in New Haven, also explained the necessity of funding for the benefit of children in the state whose basic needs are met through proper childcare.

“High quality childcare is not created until the basic needs of a child are met,” she said.

Unlike other services, the cost of child care is borne solely by parents, with little government assistance. Additionally, during the pandemic, parents continue to pay for their child’s spot even if the child was quarantined or unable to go to the center.

Gay expressed the severity of the issue in his closing remarks.

“Childcare is the single largest expense a parent faces,” he said, “the industry needs a lifeline,” he concluded.

Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, explained that the committee is currently looking into forgiving child care center loans in order to address the issue.

“We are currently looking into how many childcare outlets received loans from the state and if it would be possible to make those loans forgivable in whole or in part,” Linehan, who is co-chair of the Children’s Committee, said. ”That is something we can raise in our committee if it will provide relief and keep childcare centers open. The state needs child care centers to be open so that parents can get back to work.”