Governor Malloy’s latest early childhood education proposal centers on universal access to pre-kindergarten. The phase-in plan would offer seats to 1,000 three- and four-year-olds for fiscal year 2015, and would expand to serve 4,000 additional children by 2019.
Myra Jones-Taylor, executive director of Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood, spoke on WNPR’s Where We Live. She said the idea is to begin with the state’s most vulnerable children. "The focus here," she said, "is really on those children who would not have the opportunity to go to a high-quality early care and education setting if it weren’t for these investments, these extra dollars."
Cyd Oppenheimer at Connecticut Voices for Children said she applauds the governor’s attention to the issue, but questions the parameters for universal access, "and whether, in fact," she said, "we’re setting the bar high enough. Whether what we’re seeing is our most at-risk children. Can other families who don’t fall into that category, can they truly afford preschool?"
Oppenheimer said the current goal by 2019 is to serve children whose families earn under 185 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that’s just above $43,000. With full-day pre-kindergarten in Connecticut costing on average about $11,000, she’d like to see the bar set higher.