Care 4 Kids Program Could be a Beacon for Equity
By: Rhonda Knowles
This year when we listened to the Governor’s budget proposal there was a new “equity requirement” that requires each Governor to include “an analysis of the impact of both proposed spending and proposed revenue programs”, and “an explanation of the manner in which provisions of the budget further the Governor's efforts to ensure equity in the state” in their recommended budget document.
I live in West Haven and I have been a childcare provider for 32 years. I have participated in thewith Care 4 Kids program for 12 years which I am still participating in.for 32 years. Throughout these years I have seen countless babies grow up to become big kindergarteners, having learned critical skills from their time with me during their first few years. These first few years of life have been proven to be crucial in the child’s long term developmental growth, but currently 50% of Connecticut lives in a child care desert without viable options for stable child care. The research shows how critical these early years are, so why aren’t we putting the resources in place so that all families can have access to affordable and quality childcare.
As a Care 4 Kids provider and CSEA member, I will anxiously be waiting to see how much Governor Lamont allocates to the Care 4 Kids program. Care 4 Kids is a state program that not only uplifts parents and children but the child care providers, who are predominantly women of color, as well. This program helps low-to-moderate income families pay for child care costs while also providing job opportunities to providers who might otherwise not be able to participate in the workforce because of their own child care needs. On top of all of that, the State’s subsidy is 80-85% funded by federal allocations of Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG).
This is a model program that directly invests state funds towards low-income families through a targeted approach. It moves Connecticut towards a more equitable childcare future by providing affordable options to parents who need to join the workforce, an engaging and educational experience for the children and a stable and rewarding career for providers.
As a provider, I receive $0 towards my healthcare. Before I turned 65 I was fully reliant on my husband’s health insurance despite working a full time job, funded by the State of Connecticut. I am lucky that my husband’s job offers him health insurance options or I would be forced to rely on state aid programs.
Healthcare is a critical benefit for everyone, but anyone who has ever had a child in daycare knows how constant the cycle of illnesses are. I am greeted by runny noses and uncovered coughs each and every day I go to work, and I continue to show up knowing that I am one of the lucky ones who gets good health insurance else where, but many of my co-workers aren’t that lucky. Without employer-provided health insurance, they can’t afford to seek medical care.
I also know that each day that I have to close my doors due to illness I am leaving all of my parents in a disarray, struggling to find child care for the day to avoid missing work.
Not only do more families need to qualify for the Care 4 Kids program to address the crisis we are seeing in the childcare industry, but we also need to address the recruitment and retention issues. We cannot expect providers to create a career in this industry without offering fair wages and benefits.
This isn’t just an opportunity for providers and parents, this is an opportunity for Connecticut to move towards a more equitable future for the childcare industry.