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Advocates say proposed five-year plan to improve CT's child care system should be expanded

Children play on a playground.
Leah Willingham
/
AP
Children play on a playground.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has a five-year plan to improve that state’s child care system.

The plan, developed by a blue ribbon commission he appointed earlier this year, will be presented to lawmakers during next year's legislative session.

But an early childhood advocacy group has criticized the plan for failing to comprehensively address the state’s child care crisis.

Lamont’s plan would provide subsidies only to families below the state’s median income, the group called Child Care for Connecticut’s Future said.

The group’s executive director, Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, said that would leave 62% of Connecticut families unable to access affordable child care.

“If you are a grandparent out there, or you are an uncle or aunt out there and you have a child and you need care and you need help you shouldn’t be boxed out of the system,” she said.

The Blue Ribbon Panel’s plan is defended by Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye. She said it’s the best use of the available funds because it also increases provider pay.

“And those two things together help the system much more than just the state funded spaces because, for example, Care for Kids — the state program that helps low to moderate income families pay for child care costs — becomes available in more communities,” Bye said.

In the meantime, the child care coalition has said it will lobby lawmakers to increase funding for the five-year plan to $700 million.

That would enable not just the 38% of low-income families to qualify for the subsidies, the coalition said.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.