We want to know where candidates stand on the issues that impact our youngest children. Please be sure to ask the candidates the following questions.
1. Promoting infant attachment and healthy development
The first thousand days of a child's life are a time of tremendous growth and development. The brain growth that happens in this time sets the stage for the future. Optimal conditions for healthy brain development are attachment to a parent or caregiver and a stable, nurturing and stimulating environment.
How will you support families to have quality early experiences with and for their infants?
2. Economic security for families of young children
Data collected by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance shows that 44.5% of Connecticut children under age 3 live at or below 200% of the federal poverty line which is classified by the United Way's ALICE report as financially struggling to meet basic needs. Some of the issues these families face are low-wage jobs, unpredictable hours, and high child care costs.
What steps will you take to address the needs of Connecticut families living in financially struggling households?
3. Meeting children's health needs
Meeting the health needs of young children is essential, this includes not just physical health but oral health, developmental health, and behavioral health which is increasingly identified as an area with a shortage of options.
If elected, how will you ensure that Connecticut meets the physical, oral, developmental, and behavioral health needs of our young children?
Eliminating lead poisoning
Lead is a powerful toxic metal that permanently affects child brain development and is especially harmful for infants and young children. According the the Center for Disease Control, there is no safe level of lead in a child's body. In Connecticut, we have made progress in decreasing the incidence of lead poisoning, yet the most recent annual data shows that 2,157 children tested with elevated lead levels, with over 50% of those cases in 4 cities.
What actions will you take to permanently end the lead poisoning of Connecticut children?
4. Early care and education
Early care and education serves two critical needs - it allows parents to work and it provides children with early learning experiences they need to be ready for school success. The economics of early care and education are marginal at best in high income areas where parents can afford the cost of care. In mid and lower income areas, early care and education is still essential, but the market cannot afford it making state and federal child care subsidies essential. The result is a shortage of care, especially for infants and toddlers, as well as low compensation for the people who care for and teach our young children.
What are your plans to provide funding for early care and education that makes it available, affordable for families, and pays early childhood teachers commiserate with qualifications that are required in state subsidized programs?
5. Ensuring equity for young children
The data shows a disparity in outcomes for children of color in Connecticut in many areas. Black and Hispanic children are 2 times and 1.6 times as likely to be lead poisoned as white children. Differences in rates of ALICE families by race and ethnicity persist. And our education achievement gap is often described as a preparation gap - a gap that begins in the earliest years.