Lamont makes state commitment to improve access to child care: 'absolutely vital' for working families

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RIDGEFIELD — After touring on-site child-care classrooms at the U.S. headquarters of Boehringer Ingelheim on Friday, Gov. Ned Lamont made a commitment to improve access to child care for working families across the state.

"It's about opportunity. We're never going to get this state going again unless everybody has the opportunity to work," Lamont said as he signed an executive order to develop a strategic plan to address child care. "We have tens of thousands of folks, often single parents, often moms who can't get back in the workforce, and that's why child care is so absolutely vital to what we've got to do."

The announcement was made at Boehringer because the pharmaceutical company is "one of the very few employers in Connecticut that has an early child care center right on site for its 2,000 employees." said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who joined Lamont and other leaders in checking out the projects that youngsters were working on at the Apple Blossom Children’s Learning Center.

Bysiewicz also pointed out that March marks Women's History Month and said the issue of child care is "really important" to working women.

The executive order will focus on ensuring that families can access child care easily and affordably, providing opportunities for parents to get jobs without the worry of how their children would be cared for, Lamont said.

His plan would provide a corporate tax credit of 25 percent of the cost of child care subsidies that businesses provided to their workers. The tax credit plan is part of Lamont's biennial budget proposal, which is under consideration in the General Assembly.

As part of the Executive Order, Lamont established the Connecticut Blue-Ribbon Panel on Child Care, which is charged with developing a five-year strategic plan for a child care system that he said works for families, providers and Connecticut’s economy.  

The panel will serve as the "principal adviser to the governor on child care and early childhood education issues and coordinate the efforts of state agencies and other entities in promoting an effective child care and early childhood education system," the executive order said.

The panel's appointed members include members of the legislature's Education Committee, business leaders, legislators and parents as well as child care and early childhood education providers.

Role of child care during COVID

Lamont emphasized the importance of child care facilities in helping to enable workers to perform their jobs.

The governor spoke about the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools and child care centers were closed. If there had not been someone to take care of the children of health care workers, those workers would not have had been able to treat those who were sick with COVID-19.

"We're weren't going to have any nurses. We weren't going to have any doctors. We're not going to have anybody in these hospitals able to take care of people in their time of need unless we have a day care and child care," Lamont said of spring 2020.

Statewide child care shortage

Lamont's announcement of the blue ribbon panel also came as the state is facing a shortage of 20,000 to 30,000 child care slots, mostly for infants and toddlers, according to the state.

Additionally, Connecticut's early childhood education workforce has shrunk, with worker shortages since 2019 as a majority of providers report difficulty in hiring staff, according to the state.

Also earlier this month, Child Care for Connecticut's Future, a statewide coalition of organizations, providers, parents and advocates for child care, hosted a series of "Morning Without Child Care" protests. In the rallies, leaders called on legislators to invest in young children and their caregivers.

As part of the coalition, the advocates and their supporters gathered in Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, Mansfield, New Haven, Groton, Stamford and Waterbury to demand investments in the child care system to make it more equitable for families and providers alike. 

Child care advocates said the system is in crisis, and although pandemic-related funding is helping some families access child care, the funding is not enough and child care costs continue to rise. 

Increasing the number of child care programs across the state will need efforts on many fronts, Lamont said.  

"We have a three-legged stool — a little bit from the users, a lot from the state, hopefully the feds get back in the game. And then our corporate partners," he said.

The state is taking measures to increase pay for caregivers and increase rates for the day care providers, Lamont said. He said he hopes the federal government will "to step up and make day care universally available because it's so important. (I'm) waiting for that day." 

He added that he hopes to continue to expand access to "each and every person that needs this type of support so their kid gets the very best head start in life."

To find a child care provider, or to find which services fit the needs of your family, call 211 or visit