With Hartford Child Care Center Closing, City Promises Families Other Options

The City of Hartford is pulling some of the funding for the Community Renewal Team’s School Readiness Program, leading CRT to close the Grace Street center.

Days after parents learned a Hartford child care center would be closings its doors after the city decided to transfer funding from the Community Renewal Team’s School Readiness Program, city officials spoke at a meeting to reassure families that there will still be affordable child care available to families.

Several key officials from the Bronin administration were at the meeting to try to put some of the fears of the community to rest, particularly finding alternative, low cost full day care for their children that’s still in the neighborhood.

But CRT said they want an outside group to come in and review the city’s funding decision.

“Who made that determination because I know six classrooms in this center alone are well above standard,” one attendee said during public comment. “I don’t know where you got your information.”

Upset families had a lot of questions after learning the Grace Street Center, which provides low cost, year-round early child care, would close at the end of August after the city decided to move some of CRT’s funds to other providers.

At Thursday’s meeting the mayor, schools superintendent, head of Department of Children Families, Youth and Recreation and state’s commissioner of early childhood were all in attendance to assure parents there would still be a place elsewhere for each of their children.

“You will have an affordable, close and high quality early learning opportunity for your kids,” Mayor Luke Bronin (D) said.

“While I think it’s really important for people to understand that an organization, CRT is losing spots, kids and families are not losing spots,” he added.

The city cites performance challenges and low scoring evaluations as reasons for the funding redistribution, something CRT now wants independently evaluated.

“For us to be judged based on one person’s review one time during the course of an entire year on a 20 minute visit, that’s entirely unfair,” said Jason Black, communications director for CRT.

"We know that those scores, they’re incorrect. If you talk to any of our teachers, they know that this is not fair representation of their classrooms and how I classrooms operate," he added.

The mayor said he’s asked the Office of Early Childhood to review the decision, which he stands by, for a second time.

CRT mom Natalie Morris left the meeting still disappointed that she’ll have to send her daughter elsewhere.

“If you know that a program is struggling, why not help that program out? Why take away from a program that is struggling?” she said.

Morris said she was concerned about sending her child to another program that she is not farmiliar with, and said she felt ignored in the process.

"I don’t know of those other agencies, I cannot speak about those agencies and what they’re offering," she said.

The mayor said representatives from the city are willing to meet with every family impacted by these changes at CRT to discuss their options and alternative placements with them.

CRT said some of the other facilities receiving slots taken from them aren’t yet able to take the CRT kids, something the city disputes.

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