HARTFORD - State Rep. Robert Sanchez, D-New Britain, who also co-chairs the Education Committee, joined education advocates from across the state at the Legislative Office Building Wednesday morning to discuss proposed legislation addressing educator pay equity and early child care access.
The discussion focused on three bills:
S.B. 933, Expanding Eligibility for Certain Families in the Care4Kids Program. An act expanding eligibility for certain families in Care4Kids programs to include families with a gross income of up to 75 percent of the statewide median income.
S.B. 934, Expanding Eligibility in the Care4Kids Program to Parents Enrolled in School.
S.B. 935, Early Childhood Educator Compensation Schedule, an act requiring the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood to develop an early childhood educator compensation schedule.
Care4Kids is a program that helps low- to moderate-income families in Connecticut pay for child care costs. The program is sponsored by the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, according to its website.
Several attendees wore yellow shirts and ties to represent their support of early childhood education. Others showed their support by pinning yellow roses to their shirts.
Sanchez led the discussion, stating that Connecticut does not provide a fair and equitable wage for preschool teachers. The 25th District representative said he had been a preschool teacher for 20 years, but needed to leave because the wages were too low and he needed to support his family.
New Britain resident Ingrid Henlon, head teacher at Mount Olive Child Development Center in Hartford, spoke in support of S.B. 935.
“We mold them (preschoolers) for the public school. We get them prepared socially, emotionally, cognitively, physically. … We are the second foundation educators for these children, yet still we are not being paid enough,” she said.
Henlon said she has worked for 28 years for Mount Olive and is only making a little over $42,000 a year and needs to work a second, part-time job to make ends meet.
State Rep. Tim Ackert, R-Coventry, also spoke in support of the proposed legislation.
“I don’t want to call this spending, folks. … This is investing,” he said.
Early Childhood Alliance Executive Director Merrill Gay, a New Britain Board of Education member, said Connecticut is only one of three states in the country that does not allow parents to use child care subsidies while they are in school.
“Kids need quality childbcare and their parents need to be able to afford it,” Gay said.
“This is really a paradox. You have families that can’t afford child care and teachers who work in child care that are not getting paid enough. It’s really a situation where government needs to step in and fill that void,” he added.