On Monday morning, a group of 20 parents and advocates meet with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro at Honey Bear Learning Center in Stratford. They celebrated the first substantial Care4Kids increase in payments to child care centers in 17 years. That rate increase was made possible by additional CCDBG funds, championed by Congresswoman DeLauro in the last federal budget. Cathie Vanicky, owner of Honey Bear, shared the story of one of her employees, whose own child care parent fee dropped and who will be receiving a raise from the new revenue the center will be getting. While this was welcomed news, three parents told their stories about being denied a child care subsidy for the time they are in school or job training. Connecticut is only one of two states in the nation that do not allow allow parents to use Care4Kids for the time they are in school (GED, college) or job-training programs.

Lenore, a single mother from New Haven, had worked for the past five years, but lost her job when her employer phased out her position. When she was working, she had Care4Kids, but after exhausting her 90 day job search period, she learned she wouldn’t be eligible if she started training for a new career. 

“It’s still hard to try to get ahead and do better, when you don’t have the assistance to do better,” said Lenore.

Mylene, a West Haven mom, tearfully told the group about having her lights shut off because she couldn’t pay for both utilities and child care while she finished a six-month pharmacy technician program. She too, had been denied Care4Kids for the hours she was in training.

Congresswoman DeLauro praised the parents for their bravery in telling their stories, and told the group about the state of budget negotiations in Washington. The House Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Appropriations subcommittee, chaired by DeLauro, passed a spending plan that would increase CCDBG funding by $2.4 billion and Head Start by $1.5 billion. However, the Senate version has much lower amounts. All indicators point to a continuing resolution to maintain current spending levels, while the House and Senate negotiators try to hammer out a deal.

“Child care is a real pressing need,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “This will be a battle royal,” she said of the coming budget fight.  

Stratford State Representatives Joe Gresko and Phil Young and CT Office of Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye attended the meeting and heard the parent stories. 

“Workforce is a big focus of Governor Lamont,” said Commissioner Bye. “They’re putting together a workforce package right now – a workforce development bill – and they’re listening.”

by Jessica Ciparelli
Read the full article at https://www.earlychildhoodalliance.com/weekly_news_september_23_2019