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Connecticut

Our lead ally in Connecticut is Advancing Connecticut Together. ACT is an umbrella agency that includes several organizations that address the root causes of poverty, addiction, and health inequities through strength-based services and advocacy to ensure all people in Connecticut have equitable resources necessary to achieve multi-generational health, wealth, and happiness.

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2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 29% (96,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (2021). This number represents a decrease from 33% (113,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

On June 12, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed the state’s budget covering fiscal years 2024 and 2025. The budget provides total funds of $25.1 billion in fiscal 2024, an increase of $922.8 million, or 3.8 percent, over fiscal 2023, and total funds of $25.99 billion in fiscal 2025, an increase of $875.6 million, or 3.5 percent, over fiscal 2024.3

Largest Per Capita Revenue Sources (after federal transfers) (FY 2021):4

    • Property Taxes: $3,300 per capita
    • Sales Tax: $2,852 per capita

Political Alignment: Aligned Democrat

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Democrat  controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Democrat.5

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:6  One

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:7

2023 Policy Progress:

In Connecticut, advocates are celebrating a long list of successes that will help young children and their families thrive in the near term, and for years to come.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include5:

Baby Bonds LaunchedAfter a year of uncertainty, state Treasurer Russell secured funding to launch the program. Baby Bonds are intended to help address the persistent wealth gap. As of July 1st, $3200 would be deposited into an account for every baby whose delivery is paid for by HUSKY, the state’s Medicaid program. Those funds will grow with interest so that when the child is between 18 and 30 there will be funds they can take out to pay for college, start a business, or put towards the purchase of a house in Connecticut.

TANF Reform The state budget (Sec 279-285) included several reforms to the state’s Temporary Family Assistance program funded by the TANF block grant.  These include extending the time limit that a family can receive assistance from 21 months to 36 months, increasing the asset limit from $3000 to $6000, and increasing the income disregard from the federal poverty limit to 230% of the FPL so that families can earn and save more before being cut off. Families earning between 170% of FPL and 230% of FPL will have a 20% reduction in benefits which can continue for up to 6 months. Currently only a small fraction of the 51,000 children in deep poverty (<50% of FPL) get help through TANF cash assistance.

Reduction in the state income tax rateThe state income tax rate was reduced for the first time. The reduction benefits households earning less than $300,000 with the largest reduction in the lowest income bracket.

EITC increased to 40% – CT’s refundable state EITC is increased from 30.5% to 40% of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.  This benefits working poor families with children.

Extending HUSKY (Medicaid) coverage to undocumented children – The budget included funding to raise the age of coverage for undocumented children up to age 15 (from 12). Once on HUSKY children remain eligible until 18.

Changing the Kindergarten Entry Age – Connecticut finally joined the rest of the country in requiring children to be five by the start of school rather than 4 years and 8 months effective 9/1/24.

Raising Rates for the Care4kids Child Care Subsidy ProgramSEIU/CSEA local 760 won an 11% rate increase for family child care providers in each of the next 3 years. The biennial budget extends a 10% increase to center-based providers as well.

Creating a Protected Services Category within Care4Kids – The OEC Commissioner may create a protected services category making children in foster care, children who have been adopted in the past year, and homeless children eligible for child care subsidies regardless of other issues that might disqualify them (parental employment, work schedules, etc)

ARPA funding to partially mitigate subsidy cliff The budget appropriates a final $35 million in ARPA funding in FY24 to soften the blow from the end of pandemic CCDBG funding. Those funds enabled Connecticut to add almost 8,000 children to the Care4Kids subsidy program.  To address the end of pandemic funding Connecticut instituted a waitlist for Care4Kids in March. The state budget is predicated on a  gradual reduction of the Care4kids caseload from the current 23,000 children to 17,500.  (This is still more than the pre-Covid caseload of 15,000 but nowhere near what we need) 

Rate increase for State-funded Pre-KSchool readiness and CDC programs will get a two-and-a-half percent cost of living increase for their employees in the new state budget. Additionally, they will see the full day full year pre-k payment level increase 16% to $10,500 in the second year of the budget (fy25)

Zoning protections expanded to Group Child Care homes Group Family Child Care homes (able to serve 12 children with an assistant) will now enjoy the same protections from local zoning that Family Child Care homes currently have making it much easier for Family Child Care providers to expand. .

Creation of an Early Childhood FundTo be established by the Comptroller, this fund will be able to accept funds from philanthropic foundations and other sources.  The OEC Commissioner must make recommendations to the legislature each February on its expenditure.  The legislature retains appropriation power.

Human Capital Tax Credit Expansion The state’s Human Capital business tax credit for businesses is increased from 5% to 25% for construction of child care facilities and subsidies for employee child care. CAHS and the Alliance worked to add language to allow employers to get the construction credit if they contributed funds to a not for profit building child care capacity that would serve the employer’s workers.

Bonding for infant toddler capital projects$5 million is allocated to renovation projects to increase contracted infant toddler capacity under the state’s Child Development Center program.

Allowing child care programs to stock Epinephrine This bill makes it possible for child care providers to stock epinephrine and administer potentially life-saving medicine to a child in anaphylaxis even if the child did not have a previous diagnosis. It does not require programs to do this nor does it pay for the epinephrine.

EvenStart Funding IncreasedCT’s three Even Start programs serving infants/toddlers and their parents who haven’t completed high school saw their funding restored after being cut in the past.

Local Early Childhood Collaboratives FundedThe local Early Childhood Collaboratives previously funded through the PDG grant received $2 million per year in both years of the budget.

 

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantees in Connecticut, Connecticut Association for Human Services and the Connecticut early Childhood Alliance, are working to advance early childhood policies in several areas: 

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

Preschool and Pre-K

Child and
Maternal Health

Family
Supports

Early Childhood Infrastructure

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, July 2023

5 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

6 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

7 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

8 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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