|At the podium: House Speaker James A. Amann Photos: Pat Estill|
Flanked by schoolchildren, business leaders, and fellow lawmakers, Speaker of the House James A. Amann held a news conference on April 2, 2007, to release Connecticut's first Children's Stock Portfolio. (Download as PDF)
The Portfolio, compiled by the Commission on Children, shows that state prevention policies help children succeed while producing a healthy return-on-investment (ROI) for the state.
"Simply put, it pays to invest in prevention for children," Amann said. "Like a good stock investment, it keeps paying for itself for years and years by avoiding costs and compounding interest."
The areas where prevention has a proven ROI include preschool, vaccination, home visitation, and mentoring. The Portfolio lists promising practices in four other areas: parent engagement, reading, after school activities, and safe school environments.
Among the findings in the Portfolio:
Representative Denise W. Merrill, co-chair of the legislature's Appropriations Committee, said that while Connecticut already spends heavily on children, the focus must "shift to where we get the best bang for the buck." Holding up the Portfolio, she said it highlights the programs "that produce results that are long-lasting and lifelong."
Business leaders also attended, to express their support for prevention spending. Joseph McGee, vice president of public policy and programs for the Business Council of Fairfield County, said business needs two things: a healthy, educated workforce, and assurance that tax dollars are being spent wisely.
"What business has been saying to the legislature is, 'Look, we know we have to make investments in our children, in our future," McGee said. "But we want to be assured that the money we spend -- the taxes collected -- is used judiciously and gets results."
McGee pointed to the Early Reading section of the Portfolio, which reports that among Connecticut fourth-graders, 53 percent of white students, 85 percent of Hispanic students, and 88 percent of African-American students are reading below grade level.
"That is a national disgrace," he said. "And yet in this state we have programs" -- at the Rawson School, at Haskins Laboratories, and at the state's Reading First schools -- "where children are learning to read. It is time for action, to invest in these kinds of programs, the ones that get good results, because the other kind of results are just unacceptable."
Lauren Weisberg Kaufman, vice president of the state's leading business lobby, the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), said she knows from personal experience that the availability of high-quality day care -- one of the smart investments listed in the Portfolio -- makes a difference in worker productivity.
"As someone who worked all of the time I was raising children, I can tell you that going off to work knowing that my children were in high-quality child care was absolutely essential," she said. "It turned back very big dividends to CBIA in terms of the peace of mind I had going into my job."
|Lauren Weisberg Kaufman||Joseph McGee||Rep. Denise Merrill||Greg Oliver|
Kaufman noted that Connecticut is grappling with an aging workforce and an exodus of young people who see better economic opportunities in other states. That makes it all the more important "to make sure that every young child who lives in Connecticut is well prepared for the future," she said.
Greg Oliver, president of the Stamford chapter of 100 Black Men of America, a national organization dedicated to improving the educational and economic opportunities for African Americans, said "there's no greater asset than our children."
"As a nation of businesses," he continued, "we buy the best back-up systems for our technologies. We buy the most comprehensive insurance for our buildings and infrastructure. So why not protect our most important asset, through an investment in prevention?"
Last year, the legislature passed Connecticut's first piece of comprehensive prevention legislation. The law (P.A. 06-179) set a goal for all state agencies that serve children and families: allocating at least 10 percent of their budgets for prevention by 2020. For more on that, visit this page on the Commission site: Investing in Children: Connecticut's Landmark Prevention Law.
|The Children's Stock Portfolio was funded by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the Annie E. Casey Foundation for Making Connections in Hartford.|
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