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Bill Approved by Connecticut General Assembly Looks to Bolster Child Care in State

  • Connecticut General Assembly approves bill creating broader child care access in the state
  • The measure eases the process of licensing a family child care home in certain cities and expands eligibility in Connecticut’s Care 4 Kids program
  • Previous proposals of a student loan forgiveness program and personal income tax credit for certain child care educators and providers were not included in the final bill

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the challenges faced by working parents in securing child care. Even as employers seek to ramp up hiring as part of the economic recovery, many potential workers are being held back by the need to care for family.

The Connecticut General Assembly recently offered overwhelming support for a bill aiming to bolster the state’s child care network. The measure makes it easier to establish a family child care home in certain cities, expands eligibility for Connecticut’s Care 4 Kids program, allows family child care home licensees to use substitutes in certain circumstances, and creates a task force to study child care needs in Connecticut.

The measure passed the Connecticut House of Representatives in a 136-8 vote and was unanimously approved in the Connecticut Senate. While the original legislation proposed a student loan forgiveness program for early childhood educators and a personal income tax credit for certain employees of child care service providers, these initiatives were not included in the final bill.

Family child care home licensure

While the current law only issues family child care home licenses for child care services provided in the licensee’s home, the legislation allows the Office of Early Childhood commissioner to issue up to seven child care home licenses to a person or group of people providing child care services in a space approved by the commissioner. These spaces can be offered through a partnership with an association, organization, corporation, institution, or public or private agency.

The licenses may be issued in the 2022 to 2026 fiscal years in the cities of Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, Stamford, or Waterbury. Only one license may be issued per city, and the licenses expire on June 30, 2026.

Care 4 Kids

Eligibility for the Care 4 Kids program, which helps low- to moderate-income families in Connecticut pay for child care, is expanded to include people enrolled in or participating in certain postsecondary education and workforce training programs. These include colleges and universities, private occupational schools, job training programs administered by a regional workforce development board, apprenticeship programs administered by the Department of Labor, and certain certification and adult education programs.

The legislation notes that the eligibility and subsidies for these families are contingent on the availability of federal funds through COVID-19 relief measures.

The bill also creates new categories of people who will receive preference in Care 4 Kids’ intake and eligibility system. These include those participation or enrollment in a DOL-administered apprenticeship program, adult education or high school equivalency program, job training or employment program administered by a regional workforce development board, or college or university.

Substitute providers

Under the legislation, family child care home licensees are allowed to use an OEC-approved substitute to provide more than an hour of care under certain circumstances. Substitutes may cover for licensees who must attend a medical appointment, receive medical treatment, or complete education or training.

Licensees using a substitute must inform parents or guardians in advance of the dates and times when a substitute will be providing care. They must also maintain control of the family child care home’s day-to-day operations.

Child care task force

The bill create an early childhood workforce development needs task force to address topics such as inequities in access to child care, workforce demands in the state for care for infants through age eight, potential changes in licensure and educational preparation for the child care industry, and early childhood workforce development and job opportunity creation. The task force will issue a report to the legislature by Jan. 1, 2023.

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