HARTFORD, CT - At a scholarship breakfast with members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in Hartford, Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced his plan to reintroduce a bill this session that will formally establish the Office of Early Childhood (OEC). The new agency will provide a comprehensive, collaborative system for delivering improved programs and services to children from birth to age five years old and their parents.
“I signed an Executive Order last year establishing the Office of Early Childhood because this fundamental priority was too vital to put on hold," said Governor Malloy. "With another legislative session on the horizon, I believe it’s critical that the office be statutorily created to ensure future continuity of services. 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."
“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 Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. “All children deserve a chance to succeed, no matter where they live, or how much money their parents make.”
The Office of Early Childhood was developed in concert with agency commissioners, early childhood education and development advocates, parents, caregivers, and other stakeholders. Comprised of related programs that were previously housed in five separate state agencies — the Department of Education’s School Readiness program, the Department of Social Services’ Care for Kids, Children’s Trust Fund, and other childcare programs, 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 — the OEC will improve continuity and the reach of early childhood programs.
Passage of the bill would codify into statute the agency which was created by Executive Order No. 35 signed by Governor Malloy last June. The legislation is also necessary to detail the transfer of authority of the other state agencies to the OEC.
“Over the past seven months, we have made significant strides in early childhood in our state,” said Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, Executive Director of the OEC. “We have developed and validated our Early Learning and Development Standards, worked towards improving our child care licensing system, and invested in professional development and support to increase quality among our providers. We look forward to continuing to improve the early childhood experience for young children in our state. We hope that this legislation will be passed soon so that we may move forward with our important work.”
“A strong foundation in early childhood education helps to ensure that our youngest children are not starting out already behind. The preparation of all our children for lifelong success is a shared responsibility across state agencies. The creation of the Office of Early Childhood establishes a critical partner in this work and promises to be an indispensable resource for young children and families,” said State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.
The planning of the OEC was made possible by support from the William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund, the Early Childhood Collaborative funders, and the Early Childhood Alliance.