Appropriations Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-340

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING A TWO-GENERATIONAL SCHOOL READINESS PLAN.

Vote Date:

Vote Action:

PH Date:

3/7/2014

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Appropriations Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill would allow children and families to obtain support services that would provide the opportunities for two-generational development. It would extend resources to low-income families that they would otherwise not be able to receive. These extra resources would advance the children as well as the parents in the community to achieve optimal success in life. These centers can boost the quality of education for at-risk youths, while also giving families a chance to succeed. The approach reaches children early in life and provides continued educational outlets for adults. The two-generational bill supports the idea that when parents succeed, their children follow. These positive achievements in the adult's lives can breed upward mobility for their children. The two-generational approach is an investment in the future of children and their families that will result in positive returns.

LCO proposed substitute 3219 was added to conform to the budget.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Stefan Pryor, Commissioner, State Department of Education:

The Department of Education opposes this bill, as a similar plan has already been established at Family Resources Centers located around Connecticut. The existing model in use today is based on “Schools of the 21st Century”. This bill would be overlapping the already working model currently set in place to address the issue of intergenerational barriers to school readiness and workforce readiness.

Sharon M. Palmer, Commissioner, Department of Labor:

The Department of Labor (DOL) supports the bill as it will continue the support of similar programs and agendas that are already in place such as the DOL's Jobs First Employment Services (JFES) program. “Further communication and cooperation with state agencies would be a positive step forward and welcomed consideration”. This bill would continue providing more programs for the target population in the effort to offer more assistance for families and children.

Roderick Bremby, Commissioner, Department of Social Services:

The Department of Social Services (DSS) opposes the bill. While in favor of the topic, the Bill is not necessary as there are many other programs formed by other State agencies already taking on the services of S.B. 340. DSS believes the Department of Labor, The Office of Early Childhood and the Department of Education already have established working relationships amongst themselves and efforts are ongoing to provide service programs to the targeted population. The goals of this legislation are implemented in current law and need not be in existence as a duplicate.

Myra Jones-Taylor, Executive Director, Office of Early Childhood;

The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) supports this bill. The bill supports Two-Generational learning models, which has proven success in Connecticut. There are a few Two-Generational learning models already being implemented to date. The Even Start program, for example, has statistical data that shows the positive impact of the families that participate. The anticipated collaborative efforts of the OEC and other state agencies in developing educational programs, skills training and work supports for adults will lead to the healthy development of young children and a promising future for both generations.

Elaine Zimmerman, Executive Director, Commission on Children:

The Commission on Children (COC) is in favor of S.B. 340 as it supports the growth of both the family and the children. It is imperative to have education on both generational levels because it directly affects income and job growth. This bill will not only impact children but also give the parents a bridge to a successful future.

Director Zimmerman did however have some suggestions as an overall vision for the Two- Generational School Readiness Plan, such as: include parents seeking a high school diploma in the Care for Kids program, create a program of adults and literacy, promote an agenda that every parent obtains a high school degree to ensure the literacy of kids, create an achievement gap task force, construct pilots for the two generational strategy, and in conclusion review financing in regards to obtaining other funding like TANF dollars.

Teresa C. Younger, Executive Director, The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women:

Director Younger submitted written testimony supporting the bill. In her comments she highlighted how this bill would be pivotal in addressing two important issues concerning women. Through S.B. 340 women would be able to obtain “economic self-sufficiency through employment and job training,” as well as have childcare coverage that would allow women to maintain a career. Director Younger also provided statistics to support her opinions and the bills value.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Ray Rossomando, Research and Development Specialist, CT Education Association: Mr. Rossomando submitted written testimony in support of the bill. He believes that these programs help children and parents by creating a solid foundation. S.B. 340 will help make up for what the existing programs lack. The statistical results for these programs highly back the positive influence they have on vulnerable children and families. The bill will call to a head the different factors related to “multi-generational or cyclical poverty”.

Dr. Liane Leedom, The Connecticut Coalition for Child Development Education:

Connecticut Coalition for Child Development Education supports the two generational approach bill. Dr. Leedom emphasizes the importance to implementation of scientific courses on a child's development. She believes the state needs to see the importance of teaching the students this particular course as it will advance their growth in life.

Dr. Leedom did propose an amendment to this bill. She would like to see funding for child as well as funding for development courses in high schools, research data on how effective the curricula. She feels this would help reach the children before they leave school and help them avoid becoming the generation that needs programs as an adult. Lastly, Dr. Leedom would like to see parents receiving education in regards to the science of child development as it would aid their lives too.

Kim O'Rielly, President & CEO, Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies:

Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies is in support of the bill. They feel it will give the tools and resources to families from children to adults. All the programs offered through this strategy will advance both generations toward success by allowing them outlets specific to their needs. This plan is a long term investment into families that would provide early intervention for sustainable success.

Elizabeth Fraser, Policy Analyst, Connecticut Association for Human Services:

Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS) is in support of this bill. This organization feels the Two-Generational program is a great opportunity for families to succeed. It will extend the road already paved by the Even Start Family Learning Program and will move toward a brighter tomorrow for these families. Focusing on essential needs areas in life that will enhance the economic and social life of people involved in the Two Generational program.

Merrill Gay, Executive Director of Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance:

Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance is in support of the bill. Director Gay expressed how important dual generation learning programs are and have been for families participating in them. This is a positive step for the Office of Early Childhood and the efforts they will take to bridge all the state resources together, ultimately helping to eliminate the issues connected to growing up in poverty.

Director Gay's suggestion for now would be to “extend the exemption from the work requirement for the Care4Kids child care subsidy that currently exist for full time students under age 18, also include older parents enrolled in a dual generational learning program.”

Susan Weisselberg, Chief, Wraparound Services for New Haven Schools:

Wraparound Services supports this bill. Chief Weisselberg expresses how important this bill would be for families on providing childcare, adult education classes, and other resources to improve and extend the already existing programs. Wraparound Services is also keen to the idea of home visits for families participating in the Two Generational School Readiness Plan. Chief Weisselberg shares her eagerness for Wraparound Services to be included into the two-generational pilot program.

Chief Weisselberg suggests Wraparound Services be included in data sharing in order for future expansion of programs as well as sharing new strategies based on the information gathered. She also suggests a third- generation program as there are a lot of grandparents that care for children in need of upward movement in jobs and education. Also, Wraparound believes implementing a home visit coordinator in any pilot funding for the program. In conclusion Chief Weisselberg would like to see collaboration from several state agencies as well as someone from the P-20 council or a member of the Board of Regents to be included in the Two Generational School Readiness Plan.

Jessica Sager, Executive Director, All Our Kin:

All Our Kin is in strong support of this bill. They feel that the two-generational approach is positive for the parents and children to transform their future. Education for both parents and children is the essential building block to overcome poverty. The education and vocational training programs in existence have helped this specialty population and has proven to be statistically successful in raising their income and ultimately economic status. This bill will help the life trajectory of parents and children.

Director Sager offered two suggestions: extend Care4Kids eligibility for parents and expand quality child care to enable the parents and children to thrive.

Edie Joseph and Cyd Oppenheimer, J.D., Advocates, Connecticut Voices for Children;

Connecticut Voices for Children is in support of this bill. The two-generational approach has proven to successfully help families better their status and rise out of poverty. The impact is seen for both adults and children. This bill gives families affordable care and programs that otherwise are unattainable to low income families. The earlier children receive quality care and education the more responsive and rich their chances are to “graduate high school and enter the workforce.”

Ms. Joseph and Attorney Oppenheimer suggested a few amendments to the bill. The bill should cover families earning 75% of the state median income, Care4Kids eligibility criteria should be more inclusive to parent's needs, committee should consider other best practices for two-generational plans, and the purposed plan should look at other organizations already implementing two-generational plans.

Kate Parr, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor, University of Connecticut & Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis;

Dr. Parr is in support of the bill. The bill is effective because, unlike one generation approache it creates a learning synergy for the families. Children and parents together become successful. Through long-term research there have been great outcomes that better the families involved in two-generational programs. The bill will help give these families the support level needed to continue their progress toward education and entering the workforce. This bill can continue to support the Even Start program that has already begun to break the cyclical pattern of poverty.

Testimony was offered by the following people in support of the two generational school readiness plan and removing barriers that would inhibit Connecticut's families in need of these resources. Connecticut's Even Start program has shown proven success aiding families to better their economic and educational status and welcome this bill as an extension of it.

Donna Labbe, Director, Even Start Torrington

Doreen O'Brien, Teacher, Even Start

Maricela Perez, Student, Even Start

Laura Rangel, Student, Even Start

Julieta Negrin, Student, Even Start

Lymarie Martinez, Student, Even Start

Matilde Rocio Cruz, Student, Even Start

Ashley Rajcok, Student, Even Start

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Jeffrey Villar, Ph.D., Executive Director, Connecticut Council for Education Reform:

Dr. Villar submitted written testimony in opposition of S.B. 340. He believes this bill will negatively impact the program the Office of Early Childhood has already established. Dr. Villar purposes that the efforts for S.B. 340 be diverted to programs that are provided currently.

Reported by: Amanda Zabel

Date: 04/16/2014