The state has announced $210 million in federal COVID relief funds will go toward investment in early childhood and child care programs across the state, an effort to support families and businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced what he described as "historic" plans Friday during a visit from Vice President Kamala Harris, who came to Connecticut to discuss a federal focus on supporting children and families.
The money will come from a combination of funds from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) that was adopted in late 2020, and through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that was approved earlier this year.
“If we want to grow our economy and help families return to work, we need to support child care providers. This is a major investment in these services at a time when this support is so desperately needed," Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement. "I especially want to thank Connecticut’s Congressional delegation for championing child care funding in federal legislation and ensuring these resources were quickly delivered to the state.”
According to the governor's office, the plan will involve a two-year, $50 million investment in expanding access to child care services through the Connecticut Care 4 Kids programs for parents enrolled in higher education or certain workforce training programs. This is aimed at supporting parents who lost jobs during the pandemic and who need child care while they train for something new.
Another $120 million will go toward supporting child care workers by offering funding for child care businesses affected by the restrictions and changes during the pandemic. Grants will be available for all licensed child care centers, group child care homes, family child care homes, and license-exempt programs that accept Care 4 Kids child care subsidies.
Around $26 million will also go toward investing in the quality of child care programs, focusing on those accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association for Family Child Care. An additional $6 million will go toward helping other programs gain that accreditation.
The state is also working with child care programs and workers through the Governor’s Workforce Council and the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls, alongside the Office of Early Childhood. These groups are also looking to study the costs of quality child care and how to work with the private sector for more opportunities.
“This is a historic day for children and families in Connecticut,” Connecticut Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye said in a statement. “Advocates and families have been asking for more accessible child care for decades. Grants will preserve child care infrastructure, child care subsidies will help parents enrolled in workforce training and education, and Connecticut’s child care subsidy program will make significant investments in high-quality child care programs.”
The announcement is the first step. The governor's office will work with the Connecticut General Assembly to finalize the plans.
For more information on the governor's announcement, click here.