Can’t find child care? Gov. Lamont pitches plan to cut wait lists

Gov. Ned Lamont visited a day care center in New Haven Friday in a push to provide more money to support jobs in child care.

John Craven and Larry Epstein

Mar 15, 2024, 9:24 PM

Updated 28 days ago

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If you’re a parent, you’ve probably waited months for a day care spot.
On Friday, Gov. Ned Lamont pitched his plan to trim wait lists at a child care center in New Haven. But it faces an uphill battle at the state Capitol.
WAITING LISTS
At the Hope Child Development Center in New Haven, 65-degree weather meant it’s finally warm enough to go out and play. But the kids there are the lucky ones; most children are still on a waiting list.
“Right now, families have been sitting on our waiting list for about six months,” said executive director Georgia Goldburn.
At one time, Connecticut was short an estimated 50,000 child care slots. After a $100 million state investment – and even more from the federal government – wait times are improving. But the progress is slow.
“We’re way short on infant-toddler spaces for families,” said Department of Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye.
“We probably have about 35% of the supply that we need as a state.”
WHY THE SHORTAGE?
Child care providers say the biggest challenge is paying workers enough to keep them.
“The wages for child care workers are below that of a dog walker,” said Goldburn. “When you have an organization like Yale that's offering $20 to $25 an hour to come in to work, or Amazon that's offering $19 – and the child care industry is paying $15 – many of those workers are leaving.”
The extra investment has helped. On Friday, the Hope Center cut the ribbon on a new classroom. Workers also got a $2 per hour raise recently.
LAMONT CHILD CARE PLAN
Lamont wants to add thousands more slots by allocating an extra $43 million to child care. But the proposal has sparked backlash from school districts, because the money would coming from K-12 education funding – mostly magnet schools.
"We have an academic and achievement gap problem," state Sen. Doug McCrory (D-Hartford), co-chair of the Legislature’s Education Committee, said on Feb. 15. “And that problem will not be solved by taking the money away that these schools need to properly educate their children.”
On Friday, the governor said he’s open to a compromise.
“We have $400 million in federal money for K-12 that has not yet been spent or invested,” he said. “I’d like to prioritize that first. I could use a little more dough for programs like this and day care.”
CREATIVE SOLUTIONS
In the meantime, day care centers are getting creative. Hope Center found Haley Gregory, who wants to be an elementary school teacher, through an apprenticeship program.
“It’s about the journey,” she said. “Going from step to step, to building up.”
The state is also offering businesses tax breaks if they offer child care. Lawmakers are also considering larger staffing ratios, which would allow workers to fit more children in a classroom.


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