Governor Dannel P. Malloy today proposed the investment of $12 million to continue his administration's effort to improve the quality of and expand access to early childhood education and care across the state. The new initiative will increase slots, improve teacher training and create a rating system that will allow families to choose the best program for their children.
"I've spoken of the importance of early childhood education for many years now," said Governor Malloy. "When I was Mayor of Stamford, we led the way in making pre-k available to every child. Every childhood provider and the educators who run their programs need and deserve more support from the state. The work they do is critical to our children's future, and indeed the future of our whole state."
"We know that children who receive early education are more likely to graduate from high school, and are less likely to repeat a grade or need special education classes," Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. "There are also significant cost savings - such as reduced education expenditures later in life, fewer social service costs, and higher economic earning capacity. The investment we make in these programs will pay us back dramatically, and lead directly to a better quality of life for our children - now and when they become adults."
Governor Malloy's proposal will:
* Increase Opportunity -- $4 million in new funding to provide early childhood opportunities for 500 preschool children
* Improve Quality -- $3 million dedicated to improving quality by increasing opportunities and providing incentives for professional development and partnering with high schools and colleges to provide college level early childhood credits
* Inform Parents -- $5 million in bond funding to create the statewide Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS) that will allow parents to access information on early childhood education programs and provide a quality enhancement opportunity for providers by establishing a standard of excellence. The lack of an implemented TQRIS was cited as a weakness in Connecticut's "Race to the Top" application.
In the previous legislative session, Governor Malloy proposed and signed into law a streamlining of school readiness services into the Department of Education. He also signed into law "An Act Concerning Early Childhood Education" which took significant steps in the direction of creating a coordinated system that has been needed in the state. As part of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant Application and his signing of Executive Order No. 11, Governor Malloy charged his administration to develop a roadmap to keep his and the state's commitment to providing a high quality early childhood education experience to all Connecticut's students.
"The Governor's message has always been very clear -- we must make progress in providing our children with the experiences they need to arrive in Kindergarten prepared to learn" said Stefan Pryor, State Department of Education Commissioner. "The Governor's investment will both expand available early childhood spaces and increase quality."
"Expanding early education opportunities is vital to closing the achievement gap and setting a foundation for long-term success," said Education Committee Co-Chair State Senator Andrea Stillman (D-Waterford). "I want to thank Governor Malloy for his commitment to improving education."
"The Governor's proposal represents a huge step forward for our state," said Education Committee Co-Chair State Representative Andrew Fleischmann (D-West Hartford). "Accessible, high-quality early childhood education is critical to the future of Connecticut. Studies show that children who attend quality pre-school programs are more likely to graduate from high school, go to college, and become productive, involved citizens. By establishing a robust quality rating system and expanding access to early childhood education, the Governor is taking the key first steps to do for the state what he did for Stamford - ensure quality pre-school for all."