Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, Department of Social Services Commissioner Rod Bremby, Department of Public Health Commissioner Jewel Mullen, Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, Office of Early Childhood Planning Director Myra Jones Taylor, and other state officials, today announced the establishment of the Office of Early Childhood (OEC). The new agency will provide a comprehensive, collaborative system for delivering improved programs and services to children ages zero to five and their parents.
"We are transforming how we address early childhood care and development in Connecticut," said Governor Malloy. "Engaging in a comprehensive approach for the delivery of services to children and their parents means better, more focused programming, and is an important addition to the education reforms that are already underway. When we improve early childhood education, we set a foundation for our young people that they will build on their entire lives. I applaud the state agency commissioners, Myra Jones Taylor, and all of the stakeholders whose hard work to establish this office will help us close the achievement gap and ensure Connecticut's children arrive at school ready to learn."
The new agency builds on work done in 2012 when Connecticut invested $9.8 million in early childhood initiatives, created 1000 new spots for early learners, invested $3 million for a tiered quality rating and improvement system, and sought collaboration for Office of Early Childhood Planning.
The Office of Early Childhood is a product of work by agency commissioners, early childhood education and development advocates, parents, caregivers, and other stakeholders. Comprised of related programs that were previously housed in five separate state agencies -- the Department of Education's School Readiness program, the Department of Social Services' Care for Kids, Children's Trust Fund, and other childcare programs, the Department of Public Health's childcare licensing program, the Department of Developmental Services' Birth to 3 program, and the Board of Regents' Charts a Course program -- the OEC will improve continuity and the reach of early childhood programs.
"There are very few things government can do that are more important than ensuring our children develop reading and math skills early in life," said Lt. Governor Wyman. "This new office will provide the kind of integrated support that many of our children need to achieve those basic skills for success -- now and for a lifetime."
Seventy-one staff will move to the new office, and four new positions will be created--an Executive Director and three staff positions. The OEC will require a $370,000 investment in fiscal year 2014, and will use the Department of Education administrative and back office support.
"We have excellent individual programs and services for young children in our state, and now we have a system to connect them," said Myra Jones Taylor, Director of the Office of Early Childhood Planning. "The Governor has brought a cohesive and unified vision to programs and services for young children and families -- it is bold policy that puts children and families first. Through the Office of Early Childhood, Connecticut is positioning itself as a policy leader in child development, teacher training, and education."
The planning of the OEC was made possible by support from the William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund, the Early Childhood Collaborative funders, and the Early Childhood Alliance. It will phase in over two years and strengthen programming and teacher training as well as improve accessibility to early care and education programs.
The proposal is part of Governor Malloy's legislative package which will be unveiled on February 6.