Earlier this week, Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced his plan to reintroduce a bill that will formally establish the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) in Connecticut. This new agency will provide a comprehensive, collaborative system delivering high-quality programs and services to children and their parents, from birth to five years old.
“I believe it’s critical that the office be statutorily created to ensure future continuity of services,” said the Governor. “A smart, coordinated system that makes sure we are providing quality services to the children who need them is an important part of our effort to give everyone in our state the chance to succeed throughout their lives.”
The Office of Early Childhood is a collaboration of agency commissioners, early childhood education and development advocates, parents, caregivers, and other stakeholders. The OEC is comprised of related programs that were previously housed in five separate state agencies and will improve continuity and the reach of early childhood programs. Representative agencies include the Department of Education’s School Readiness program, the Department of Social Services’ Care for Kids, 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, among others.
“It is imperative that we have a system that is cohesive and collaborative so that our youngest, most precious residents have improved access to the quality programs and services they deserve,” said Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman. “All children deserve a chance to succeed, no matter where they live, or how much money their parents make.”
Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, Executive Director of the OEC, acknowledged the progress that the state of Connecticut has made in regards to Early Learning and Development Standards, noting that there is still room to improve. “We look forward to continuing to improve the early childhood experience for young children in our state,” she said. “We hope that this legislation will be passed soon so that we may move forward with our important work.”
Governor Malloy’s announcement puts Connecticut in the center of an ongoing conversation regarding the hot button issue of early childhood education and the lack of high-quality programs in our country. We at the Friends Center for Children know that there is a dire need to provide our youngest students a strong start towards their education and to set them on a path for lifelong success. We have taken a grand leap towards creating a space specifically tailored for high-quality early childhood learning through our values-based curriculum, our focus on emotional intelligence and cooperative environment. Our involvement in the community allows us to positively impact New Haven and help Connecticut lead the way for early childhood education.