A poll commissioned by hundreds of Connecticut child care providers and organizations found overwhelming support for state investment in early care.
Child Care for Connecticut’s Future surveyed 946 registered Connecticut voters between Sept. 23 – Oct. 3 and found 57% support capping early care and education at 7% of household income. And 75% said early care educators should make the same hourly wage as a public school teacher.
“These findings confirm that Connecticut voters want bold solutions to our state’s child care crisis at a time when many families still can’t find affordable care for their kids,” Allyx Schiavone, co-chair of the Child Care for Connecticut’s Future coalition and executive director of the Friends Center for Children in New Haven, said. “Child care educators are essential to Connecticut’s economic prosperity.”
However, Merrill Gay, executive director of the CT Early Childhood Alliance, said the state is losing early care providers to public schools, retail jobs and giant corporations like Amazon who can afford to pay them $3 to $4 more per hour.
“The problem is wages and the economy have gone up, but child care providers can’t raise wages fast enough because parents can’t afford to pay more,” Gay said.
Nationwide, he said there are 100,000 fewer child care providers than there used to be.
Economic concerns are top of mind for voters. Seventy-five percent of Connecticut voters who have had or know someone who has had difficulty accessing quality early care and education identified cost as a barrier.
And business leaders see this as a concern too.
The survey found 47% of businesses reported their employees have a hard time paying for early care and education and the lack of affordable child care is affecting workforce productivity.
Gay said programs often have to call parents to tell them they can’t bring in their kids, which likely means they can’t go to work, because there isn’t enough staff at the child care center to care for them.
Earlier this month the state paid out $70 million in bonuses to about 34,000 child care workers who worked through the pandemic, but it’s not enough to make up for the weekly pay these workers receive.
“All of the bonus money was a Band-Aid, and the problem is the patient is hemmoraging,” Gay said.