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First blue-ribbon panel discusses plan for Connecticut child care

Lina Kivaka

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont initiated the first blue-ribbon panel on child care Wednesday.

The panel will outline an actionable five-year plan that supports families, child care providers and Connecticut’s economy. It prioritizes easy access to early care and education.

Lamont said he wants Connecticut kids to get the best head start in life.

“I said it a million times and I’ll say it again,” he told a press conference. “I want Connecticut to be the most family-friendly state in the country. I think it’s the right thing to do for our kids.”

Commissioner Beth Bye of the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) will lead the work. She reflected on the burden child care workers shouldered during the early days of the pandemic.

“I had never thought of early childhood educators as first responders, but Governor Lamont said that, and I thought it’s true,” she said. “They were there for us, working in a system that has many challenges, working for low wages, so we need to fix this system.”

The market prices for child care are lower than the actual cost of quality child care, which presents concerns around wages and quality of care, according to the Connecticut OEC.

The goal is to create an actionable system that ensures that every child has a “quality educational foundation” to allow them to grow, learn, and succeed into adulthood.

The planning is divided into four groups: equity and access; workforce and quality; systems; and funding and costs.

The panel will meet monthly in the spring and summer before their work is reviewed. They will submit the final plan in December.

Clare Gehlich is a former news intern at WSHU.