Report to the CT ECE Finance Project by htt39969


									            Report to the CT ECE Finance Project

      Governance, Leadership and Partnership Opportunities
to Promote the School Readiness of Connecticut’s Young Children

                     Janice M. Gruendel, Ph.D., M.Ed.
                     Senior Advisor for Early Childhood
                      Office of Governor M. Jodi Rell
                            State of Connecticut

                           Table of Contents

  Why Worry About Governance, Integration and Systems Development?

  From “School Readiness” to an “Early Childhood Investment” Framework

             Statewide Governance Structures: No Best Way

      Establishing New State Departments to Consolidate Functions

                    Establishing Children’s Cabinets

           Establishing State Networks of Local Collaboratives

NGA on Governance, Leadership and Early Childhood Systems Development

   The BUILD Initiative on the Core Role of Governance and Leadership
                            in Systems Change

         The Connecticut Context: Governance and Collaboration

  A Schematic of Evolving Early Childhood Governance and Collaboration

        Connecticut’s Early Childhood Partners Strategic B-5 Plan

                     Likely Legislative Action in 2005

                           The Bottom Line…

                               March 2005

           Report to the Governor and the ECE Finance Project:
    Governance, Leadership and Partnership Opportunities to Promote the
            School Readiness of Connecticut’s Young Children1

                                                 March 2005

                                      Janice M. Gruendel, Ph.D.
                                  Senior Advisor for Early Childhood
                                 Governor’s Office, State of Connecticut

        “Polices and programs aimed at improving the life chances of young children
        come in many varieties…They all share a belief that early childhood development
        is susceptible to environmental influences and that wise public investments in
        young children can increase the odds of favorable developmental outcomes.”
                     National Research Council and Institutes of Medicine, in
                            “From Neurons to Neighborhoods,” 2001

        In the budget, Governor Rell has created an Early Childhood Investment
        Advisory Cabinet, made up of commissioners from the child related agencies of
        Education (SDE), Social Services (DSS), Public Health (DPH), Children and
        Families (DCF), and Mental Retardation. The Cabinet will ensure the
        coordination of the services offered by the various departments for preschool
        youngsters, recommend management enhancements and propose service
        improvement to the School Readiness system. The Governor’s budget also
        creates the Early Childhood Research and Policy Council which will bring
        together members of Connecticut’s education, business and philanthropic
        communities to advise the Early Childhood Advisory Cabinet. 2

                               Connecticut Governor’s Budget Summary
                                Governor M Jodi Rell, February 9, 2005

Why Worry about Governance, Integration and System Development?

A number of Connecticut groups and initiatives, including the federally funded Early
Childhood Partners comprehensive birth-to-five (B-5) planning initiative sponsored by
the CT Department of Public Health and the Commission on Children, have identified
persistent interagency service issues.3 These include weak interagency collaboration,

  This work was begun in the summer of 2004, while the author was Co-President of CT Voices for Children and
Co-Chair of the ECE Finance Project. That portion of the research was supported by the William Caspar Graustein
Memorial Fund. The more recent work to complete this review was supported by the State of Connecticut within the
context of the author’s staff assistance to the Connecticut ECE Finance Project.
  Governor’s Budget Summary, 2005. p. 19. Note: Language in the legislative implementer bill includes the
Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management as a member of the Early Childhood Investment Advisory
  Connecticut Early Childhood Partners Strategic Plan. Department of Public Health, Draft March 2005. Contact
Martha Okafor at –

contradictory reporting requirements, lack of clear child, program and quality outcomes,
problems in outcomes tracking and performance assessment, and poor state and local
strategic planning and service coordination.

These types of governance challenges are not new, nor are they peculiar to the State of
Connecticut. However, within the context of early childhood systems development, the
problems of “siloed” decision-making, uncoordinated funding streams, and fragmented
planning processes create a particularly difficult situation.

A brief look at the early care and education “industry” is particularly revealing. Child
care and preschool in Connecticut and across the nation are characterized by a set of
structural challenges:

         Inadequate program quality related to an under-educated workforce
         Inadequate compensation to recruit and retain an adequately trained
         Inadequate consumer knowledge about what constitutes program quality
         Inadequate consumer capacity to afford the real costs of an adequately
         trained and compensated workforce
         Unsatisfactory child readiness outcomes related to poor-to-mediocre
         program quality.

Despite these challenges, the demand for early care is high, as parents of young
children increasingly populate the full-time labor force. In fact, 92% of all Connecticut
children under the age of six have at least one person in the full-time workforce and
62% have both parents or the only parent in the full-time labor force. The cost of care is
also a significant issue, especially for children living in families at or below the state’s
median family income.4 Paradoxically, the costs of early child care and education can
exceed the cost of a public college education in Connecticut.

Demand for access to quality early care and education settings is also high because
longitudinal and more recent research shows the strong positive impact that a quality
early learning program can have on children’s readiness for elementary school. This is
especially true for children at risk of early school challenges due to family poverty, lower
levels of parental education (particularly maternal educational attainment), living in a
single parent family, and living in a family where English is not the primary home

National data confirm that children who attend a high quality preschool setting at the
age of three and four are less likely to be held back in kindergarten and first grade, less
likely to need special education in early elementary school, and more likely to be rated
by their kindergarten teachers as having the knowledge, skills and behaviors essential
to the contemporary kindergarten classroom. They are also more likely to graduate from

 For lower income families, child care is the second largest cost after housing. Child care and early education costs
for preschoolers can range from $7000 to in excess of $11,000 per child. For infants and toddlers, center-based care
can exceed $15,000 per child per year.

high school and less likely to become pregnant while in school, become incarcerated as
young adults or enter the welfare system. Connecticut data, derived from School
Readiness Program evaluations, confirm these outcomes.
Finally, the demand for quality early care and early education has grown among
parents, the general public and professionals as scientific studies reveal that some 85%
of children’s brain architecture is complete in the third year of life.

Taken together, it is clear that these demand and supply challenges require the planful
and coordinated attention of the education, social service, early intervention, elementary
education, higher education, workforce and health care sectors, to:

           Assure the readiness of young children, with a special focus on children in at risk
           Support families in their dual quest to work and care for their young children
           Increase quality and expanded access to quality programs within the early care
           and education industry itself
           Promote linkages with other programs serving young children, and their families
           Create a governance mechanism that assures competent management and
           coordination of resources at the state and local levels
           Assure an adequate, sustainable base of public-private funding resources.

From “School Readiness” to an “Early Childhood Investment” Framework

Connecticut’s current framework for state and local action in support of children’s
readiness for school was established by the CT General Assembly in 1997 through
Public Act 97-257. The “School Readiness and Child Day Care Program”5 is
administered statewide by the Department of Social Services and the State Department
of Education and locally through School Readiness Councils. The program is designed
to increase the school readiness of three- and four-year old children in Connecticut’s
“priority school districts” or districts with “special needs schools.”

In addition to utilization of the state’s Preschool Curriculum Framework, services
required under the School Readiness Program include linkages with community health,
nutrition, family literacy services, parenting support services and coordination with other
community programs including public libraries. The program must also develop and
implement plans for professional development, achieving the enrollment of children from
diverse backgrounds, integration of children with disabilities, and improving the
transition from preschool to kindergarten.

Priority school district communities currently funded through the program are: Ansonia,
Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Bristol, Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford, Meriden, Middletown,
New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, Putnam, Stamford, Waterbury, West
Haven, and Windham.

    Online at --

Special-need school district communities funded through the program are: Ashford,
Branford, Brooklyn, Chaplin, Derby, East Haven, Enfield, Greenwich, Griswold,
Hamden, Killingly and Plainfield, Manchester, Milford, Naugatuck, Norwich/Groton,
Plymouth, Shelton, Sprague, Stafford, Stonington, Stratford, Thompson, Torrington,
Vernon, West Hartford, Winchester, and Windsor.

Connecticut’s evolving framework for early childhood investment rests on several
principles. First, while there is much proper attention to the kindergarten readiness of
the state’s three- and four year olds, children do not begin learning at age three nor do
they stop learning at age five. Connecticut’s early childhood framework must therefore
cover the critical developmental period from prenatal development through age eight.
To achieve improvements in governance and resource effectiveness, we need include
those state departments and agencies that address some or all of this age range.

Second, while we are placing a strong emphasis on children’s readiness, we accept the
National Governors Association framework of: Ready Children, Ready Families, Ready
Schools, Ready Communities and a Ready State. To achieve improvements in state-
local governance and resource effectiveness, we need to assure either representation
or a functional flow of information across these points of focus.

Third, while we have begun this work with attention to Connecticut early care and
education, we need to build a “system of interlocked systems,” including health (and all
that implies), early care and education, family support services, and early intervention.

Finally, the State of Connecticut, no matter how efficient and effective it can become,
does not raise children (save those for whom it has become the statutory parent).
Families and communities raise children. To achieve improvements in governance and
resource effectiveness, we must find a way to include the input of families (parents and
grandparents) raising young children as well as of members of the community, broadly

Statewide Governance Structures: No One Best Way

As state and local governmental attention increasingly turns to investing in children’s
school readiness as defined by the National Education Goals Panel6, governmental
leaders are moving to implement improved interagency structures and processes.

Across the nation, several types of governance structures are emerging, with the goal of
improving collaboration and management competence and creating a more effective
utilization of fiscal and personnel resources across state agencies. The balance of this
report draws on the work of the National Governors Association (NGA), The Finance
Project, and the national BUILD Initiative to summarize these structures, their key
functions and lessons learned.

  The 1997 National Education Goals Panel identified five dimensions of school readiness. All are required: Early
thinking ability and knowledge (cognitive development), language development and communication ability, social
and emotional development, physical health and development, and children’s knowledge of the world around them.

National Governors Association early childhood policy staff member, Anna Lovejoy,
reports that many states are building birth to five early childhood systems and using a
variety of governance strategies.

          “From our perspective, there is perhaps no single best arrangement for
          governing early childhood policies and programs because every state is
          different. Each approach also brings different benefits and challenges. For
          example, creating a statewide agency for birth-to-five programs may
          increase alignment and efficiency among those programs, but it may also
          create or reinforce disconnects between K-12 and public health services.
          A collaborative governance body may bring all relevant voices to the table,
          but it may also increase the difficulty of reaching consensus on a common

          “Regardless of the governance structure, we suggest that states make
          sure to develop collaboration mechanisms (e.g., memoranda of
          understanding or joint authority over funding streams) among all agencies
          that touch the lives of children and families to bring policies and decisions
          into alignment. Such partnerships provide opportunities to create, for
          example, unified data collection requirements, training opportunities, and
          professional standards across pre-kindergarten, child care, and Head
          Start programs.”7

Three governance strategies being implemented across states to improve policy and
practice, financing, and service quality and access are described in some detail, below:

          Establishing new departments to consolidate early childhood functions
          Establishing children’s cabinets to foster interagency collaboration,
          efficiency and service improvement
          Establishing state networks of local collaboratives to address early
          childhood needs.

Establishing New State Departments to Consolidate Functions

Two states are currently in the process of reorganizing their departmental structures to
establish a new state agency with equal departmental status to focus on the early
childhood years.

Georgia.8 The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is charged with
coordinating and streamlining the state's early child care programs to help ensure every
child in the state enters kindergarten ready to learn. The intent is to blend resources,
reduce bureaucracy, eliminate duplication of services, and coordinate efforts among
early care providers.

    Personal communication, December 7, 2004
    See --

Formerly the Office of School Readiness, the Department will:
     Administer the state's universal pre-kindergarten program
     License center-based and home-based child care
     Administer federal nutrition programs
     House the Head Start Collaboration Office
     Coordinate the functions of the Georgia Child Care Council
     Distribute federal Even Start dollars for early literacy
     Work collaboratively with Smart Start Georgia -- a public-private initiative
     for “birth to three” services -- to blend federal, state, and private funds.

Massachusetts.9 The Massachusetts legislature offered the state Departments of
Education and Human Services an opportunity to develop a joint proposal to create a
state-level Department of Early Education and Care. With input from the state Early
Education and Care Council, the final plan lays the foundation for universal, high-quality
early education and care programs for all three- and four-year-olds. By statute, the new
department will oversee preschool programs previously administered by the Education
Department and will also assume related early childhood responsibilities from the
Department of Public Health and the Office of Child Care Services.

Establishing Children’s Cabinets

Reviewing the need for improved management and planning to more appropriately meet
the needs of young children and their families, the National Governors Association has
developed a set of recommendations for creating state-level, executive branch
Children’s Cabinets or other interdepartmental governance structures.

Based on materials available from the NGA as well as from the national BUILD
Initiative10 (a comprehensive, philanthropic B-5 systems planning effort) it appears that
cabinet-level entities fall into one of four distinct membership categories:

           State agencies only and under executive branch direction
           State agencies, representatives from other branches plus state associations and
           State and local executive branch agencies
           State and local executive branch agencies plus others including parent

The National Governors Association recommends that leadership of this structure
(whatever form it takes) be empowered “to make critical decisions on priorities, funding
and service delivery once stakeholder input is received.” The NGA’s report “A

    See --
     Online at --

Governor’s Guide to Children’s Cabinets”11 also proposes that the following functions be
assigned to a Children’s Cabinet or other executive branch interagency entity:

        Develop and implement a shared vision across agencies for improving
        child and family outcomes
        Improve the positioning of the state in the global marketplace by investing
        in the education and skills of children as the state’s future workforce
        Foster public awareness of major children’s issues
        Engage new partners in publicly-supported efforts to serve children and
        their families
        Build a long-term commitment to children’s issues in the state.

Working with states that have already established Children’s Cabinets, the National
Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices has identified a set of principles
critical for success of this governance structure.

        “Gubernatorial leadership is critical for the Cabinet’s success.
        A Children’s Cabinet must have a clear mission with specific objectives
        and measurable outcomes.
        Cabinet members must share a high level of commitment to the Cabinet’s
        mission and objectives.
        Cabinets should have dedicated staff.
        Cabinet leadership should consider including the private sector, which can
        foster a wider sense of shared responsibility for achieving Cabinet goals.
        Cabinet members and staff should regularly solicit the public’s input and
        consider it seriously.”
        Governors must ultimately make the difficult decisions concerning
        sustaining or eliminating their Children’s Cabinets.”
        The real measure of a successful Children’s Cabinet is the improved
        outcomes for the children and families on which it focuses.

The ”Governor’s Guide to Children’s Cabinets” also provides a listing of states with
children’s cabinets along with contact and website information and detail on how and
when the cabinet was established. Finally, the NGA is establishing a peer network for
state cabinet leaders to facilitate cross-state learning and to provide technical

In summary, 16 states have established children’s cabinets. The first one established –
the Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Families (West Virginia) – was created in 1990.
More recent additions include Governor’s Children’s Cabinets in Tennessee,
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, and Arizona, all established within the past two to
three years. Half were established through Executive Order, though most have now
been codified in statute.

   “A Governor’s Guide to Children’s Cabinets,” National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices. Online
at –

Membership on the cabinets varies somewhat. Most include leadership from the core of
state agencies serving children and families, child welfare, health and human services,
mental retardation, mental health, and education. Some include representatives of the
courts and the justice system. Others include state agency leadership from economic
development, administration, labor, and employment. Several include other
constitutional officers, most usually the Attorney General and the State Treasurer. A
number also include citizen representation and several include commissions on African
American and Indian Affairs.

Establishing State Networks of Local Collaboratives

Because actual service delivery occurs most often at the community level, efforts to
increase local collaboration and then support these local efforts on a statewide basis
are emerging across the country. The Finance Project studied governance and
financing structures designed specifically to “improve the coordination, management
and delivery of comprehensive supports and services to children and families.”

Their report, ““State Networks of Local Comprehensive Community Collaboratives:
Financing and Governance Strategies” published in 2003, frames the issues succinctly:

         Across the country, many states and localities, with support from an array
         of business, philanthropy and community partners, are engaged in
         innovative efforts to expand and improve programs and systems of
         supports and services for young children and their families. To a large
         extent, the greatest challenge is not in knowing what constitutes high-
         quality supports and services for young children and their families. Rather,
         it is in gaining and maintaining concerted attention and resources to
         planning, financing, implementing and sustaining high-quality, coherent
         systems that connect all the disparate state and local programs, services
         and resources.12

The Finance Project study identified two common state-level structures created to
coordinate local community collaboratives focused on the early childhood years: public-
private partnerships, and creation of a state-level interagency body.13

Public-private partnerships. Utilizing a “public-private partnership” model, North
Carolina’s nationally renowned Smart Start Initiative14 has built a statewide system of
coordinated services for the state’s children ages birth through five and their families. At

   “State Networks of Local Comprehensive Community Collaboratives: Financing and Governance Strategies.”
The Finance Project. 2003. Online at --
   A third type of state-level governance structure responsible for managing local collaborative efforts was
identified, though the authors note that it is infrequently utilized: creation of the state agency or sub-agency. They
cite the example of the Kentucky Office of Family Resource and Youth Services Centers, established as part of the
Kentucky Cabinet for Children and Families to provide administrative support, TA, and training to local school-
based family resource centers. This type of coordinating structure for older children’s services is not unlike the
creation of the Georgia and Massachusetts Departments of Early Learning for younger children.
   Online at --

the state level, Smart Start is “managed by the North Carolina Partnership for Children,
a private nonprofit organizations with an executive director and Board of Directors.” The
Board includes representatives of the business, education, nonprofit, faith, and child
care communities as well as parents and members of the North Carolina General
Assembly. Locally, 81 public-private partnerships cover all of North Carolina’s 100
counties, each directed at improving children’s school readiness.

Interagency bodies. Several states have created an interagency group of senior level
representatives from multiple state agencies serving young children and their families.
Not a formal cabinet, these interagency groups operate according to a memorandum of
agreement to guide the work of their own agencies in partnership with local
collaboratives -- through information sharing, coordination of effort, and collaborative
policy development.

As one example, the “Putting It Together” initiative in Michigan15 brings together the
state Departments of Social Services, Public Health, Aging, and the Superintendent of
Public Instruction to improve systems of care for Michigan children and families. At the
local level, the initiative recommended establishment of “Multi-Purpose Collaborative
Bodies” throughout every county of the state, designed to create community alliances, a
shared vision and to mobilize resources to local families.

Across all of the state initiatives reviewed by The Finance Project, a series of principles
for governance and finance emerge:

           “Results orientation. It is critically important to build consensus around
           desired outcomes and to establish programmatic and financing strategies
           that work together to support these goals.

           Governance relationships. In order to more effectively support the
           comprehensive delivery of services, state and local government agencies
           may need to develop new governance structures and processes that allow
           them the flexibility required for collaborative action. Creating partnerships
           with business leaders, service providers, parents and other is also
           invaluable in leveraging technical, fiscal and political resources.

           Community involvement. Children, families and communities are the
           ultimate consumers of early learning, education, health care, family
           support and an array of other supports and services. For these supports
           and services to be effective, there must be meaningful community-level
           involvement in and support for the decisions affecting these stakeholders.

           Strategic financing. Effectively supporting state networks of
           comprehensive community-based collaboratives and their work requires
           careful attention to issues of financing. Strategies include making better
           and more flexible use of existing funds, including coordinating or
     Online at --

        consolidating traditionally separate funding streams, maximizing available
        federal and state revenue, and using business, foundation and other
        private-sector funds to leverage public resources.

        Adaptability to changing conditions. Financing and governance policies
        need to be able to adapt to changing social, economic and political trends.
        To respond successfully to changes in their environment, initiative leaders
        need to be aware of the challenges and opportunities and to be positioned
        to respond strategically.”

NGA on Governance, Leadership and Early Childhood Systems Development

Over the past year, the governors from eight states -- Kentucky, Idaho, Arkansas,
Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina – worked together to
develop a framework within which states could develop and sustain effective early
childhood systems focused on school readiness.

In January 2005, the National Governors Association issued the report of the NGA Task
Force on School Readiness. In that document, entitled “Building the Foundation for
Bright Futures,”16 the governors propose that states’ early learning system development
be organized around the following elements of readiness:

        Ready Children
        Ready Families
        Ready Schools
        Ready Communities, and
        A Ready State.

The Task Force also recommends that governors utilize a Children’s Cabinet,
interagency council or public-private partnership to:

        Establish mechanisms to require all agencies that administer programs
        and services for children to collaborate on policy decisions and coordinate
        services through formal MOA’s or joint administrative authority over
        funding streams

        Implement unified data collection requirements, training opportunities, and
        professional standards across child care, Head Start, and school
        readiness programs including universal PreK

        Provide new funds and leverage existing resources for system
        coordination efforts

  “Building the Foundation for Bright Futures.” National Governors Association, January 2005. Online at --

        Establish goals and measure progress toward outcomes

        Establish common measures and consistent data reporting mechanisms
        to allow cross-agency and cross-sector information sharing and analysis.
        Invest sufficient resources to support improved data collection and
        analysis efforts

        Develop a communications strategy to report progress. Use results to
        inform policy decisions and build support for school readiness among
        policy makers, legislators, educators, parents and the general public.

The NGA report also makes substantial suggestions for policy action in each of the
areas of concern: ready children, families, schools, communities and state policy.

The BUILD Initiative on the Core Role of Governance and Leadership in Systems

The BUILD Initiative is a multi-state, technical assistance partnership that helps states
construct a coordinated system of programs, policies and services” to address the
needs of young children and their families. “It does this by supporting those who set
policies, provide services, and advocate for children from birth through age five so that
our youngest children are safe, healthy, eager to learn, and ready to succeed in school.
BUILD serves as a catalyst for change and a national resource on early learning.”17

The BUILD Initiative provides substantial annual funding to five states as primary
partners (Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio) and has developed
“learning partnerships” with four additional states (Hawaii, Michigan, Oklahoma and
Washington).18 BUILD has developed a view of the systemic change process and
infrastructure necessary to improve outcomes for young children and their families.
Central to the process of systemic change within the BUILD framework is the core role
of governance and leadership, for it guides and directs policy reform, resource
development and financing, programs and services, quality and outcomes, evaluation
and public engagement.

The Connecticut Context: Governance and Collaboration

Within the state of Connecticut, there are a number of governmentally established,
state-level interagency coordinating mechanisms whose charge touches upon the
development and coordination of services and supports for young children, and their
families. As part of the 1997 School Readiness legislation, local collaborative
mechanisms were also established – called School Readiness Councils – whose
charge includes community needs assessment, strategic planning and service system

  Online at --
  Funders for this national comprehensive systems development initiative include: The Gund Foundation, Irving
Harris Foundation, Heinz Endowments, Joyce Foundation, Kauffman Foundation, Packard Foundation, Lucent
Technologies Foundation, Tribune Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Kellogg Foundation.

development to support the school readiness of children in the state’s at risk school
districts. Additionally, Healthy Child Care Connecticut provides a forum for a
organizations involved in the planning and delivery of child care and health care for
children and families.

Commission on Children. The Commission on Children is a legislative entity serving a
variety of administrative coordination and policy analysis functions across Connecticut
state agencies. It does not, however, have management control over state agency
behavior. The Commission’s mandate19 is to:

           Provide information and conduct research regarding the status of children
           and children's programs in the state of Connecticut
           Enlist the support of leaders in business, and education communities,
           state and local governments and the media to improve services and
           policies for children
           Review coordination and assess all programs and practices in all state
           agencies as they affect children
           Serve as a liaison between government and private groups concerned
           with children
           Make recommendations annually to the Legislature and the Governor.

The Commission has 25 members, including the Commissioners of the Departments of
Children and Families, Social Services, Policy and Management, Mental Retardation,
Education, Public Health, and Corrections. All of these commissioners designate a
representative to attend. Also listed as governmental members of the Commission are
the Office of the Attorney General and the Judicial Branch, where Chief Administrative
Judge for Juvenile Matters is the designated representative. Other members are
professionals from several different fields and volunteers/child advocates.

Governor’s Jobs Cabinet. The Governor's JOBS Cabinet, created by Executive Order
in April 1999, was established to serve as the “implementation arm” for statewide
policies developed by the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission. It is
charged with exploring, identifying and reporting on policies and actions necessary to
ensure that Connecticut leads the nation in building a well-trained and employed
workforce. The JOBS Cabinet is chaired by the Director of the Governor's Office for
Workforce Competitiveness.

Members of the Jobs Cabinet include: the Commissioners of Labor, Economic and
Community Development, Education and Social Services; the Secretary of the Office of
Policy and Management; and the Chancellor of Community Colleges. Because of the
criticality of workforce issues in early care and education, the work of the Jobs Cabinet,
particularly as it relates to the child care and early education workforce, is highly
relevant to the work of the CT Early Childhood Investment Advisory Cabinet.

     The mandate statement is online at --

Child Day Care Council. Section 17b-748 of the General Statutes establishes the Child
Day Care Council. The Council is to make recommendations to the Commissioners of
Social Services and Public Health and Addiction Services regarding child care licensing
standards and on planning for child care services. The Council also is to study issues
affecting child day care and make recommendations to the general assembly, and
serves as an advisory committee to the department of social services in the
development of the state child care plan and is to conduct biennial hearings on the plan.

Ex officio members of the Council are the Commissioners of Economic and Community
Development, Children and Families, Public Health, Education and Social Services.
Other member organizations are the Commission on Children, Commission on the
Status of Women, United Way, Children’s Trust Fund, American Academy of Pediatrics,
Connecticut Business and Industry Association, parents and representatives of the child
care provider community.

Healthy Child Care Connecticut.            Established in 1996, Healthy Child Care
Connecticut is a collaboration of state and local organizations working at the intersect of
health care and child care. Leadership is the joint responsibility of the Departments of
Social Services and Public Health, with staffing support provided through the
Connecticut Head Start State Collaboration Office. The Connecticut program is a part of
Healthy Child Care America, “a collaborative effort of healthy professionals, child care
providers, and families working to improve the health and safety of children in child
care.” Healthy Child Care America is coordinated by the American Academy of
Pediatrics, working with 50-state grantees funded through the federal Maternal and
Child Health Bureau.

Governor’s Early Childhood Investment Advisory Cabinet. On February 9th,
Connecticut’s Governor M. Jodi Rell announced, through her Biennial Budget, her intent
to establish, through legislation, a first-ever CT Early Childhood Investment Advisory
Cabinet. Membership would include the Commissioners of Education, Social Services,
Public Health, Mental Retardation, and Children and Families along with the Secretary
of the Office of Policy and Management, the state’s budgeting authority.

      “The Cabinet will ensure the coordination of services offered by the
      various departments for preschool youngsters, recommend management
      enhancements and propose service improvements to the School
      Readiness system. The Governor’s budget also creates the Early
      Childhood Research and Policy Council which will bring together members
      of Connecticut’s education, business, and philanthropic communities to
      advise the Early Childhood Advisory Cabinet.”

      “The Cabinet will set the standards for School Readiness by requiring all
      state-funded School Readiness Programs that will help parents and
      caregivers pick the best preschool for their children. Finally, the Cabinet,
      in concert with the Council, will advise SDE [State Department of

           Education] in the development of an assessment tool to measure the
           success of our preschool programs.”20

An analysis of the proposed FY 2006 – FY 2007 Governor’s budget reveals the
following series of tasks, supported by fiscal resources, as coming under the purview of
the CT Early Childhood Investment Advisory Cabinet:

           Provide fiscal support and receiving information from the new CT Early
           Childhood Research and Policy Council ($300,000 proposed for the
           Council in each of FY 2006 and 2007)
           Make strategic investments in data collection, management and reporting
           to aid early childhood strategic planning and performance assessment
           ($200,000 proposed for each of FY 2006 and FY 2007)
           Assist communities in the planning application process for state-supported
           ECE capital development ($250,000 in each of FY 2006 and FY 2007)
           Support training in the Connecticut Preschool Curriculum Framework for
           early care and education centers not now using it ($300,000 in each of FY
           2006 and FY 2007)
           Develop a consumer-friendly quality rating scale for CT early care and
           education centers receiving any state funding ($200,000 in FY 2007)
           Begin the process of developing a statewide entry to kindergarten student
           assessment, with the goal of statewide use in the Fall of 2009 ($400,000
           in FY 2006 and $800,000 in FY 2007)

Although not explicitly referenced in the budget document, it is likely that the Cabinet
will also serve as the administrative entity in selection and development of the “School
Readiness Plus” public-private community partnerships.             The intent of these
partnerships is to expand the state’s School Readiness Program in the following ways
and over a multi-year period of investment:

           Enable communities to take a birth to five perspective in order to assure
           that their at risk children will be optimally ready for school success at entry
           to kindergarten
           Expand state funding to communities with children at risk who have not
           yet been funded through the School Readiness Program
           Build linkages between early care and education and other systems for
           young children and their families, at the community level (e.g., health,
           family support and early intervention)
           Support and improve the transition from preschool to kindergarten,
           including participation in the development of the new entry to kindergarten
           Leverage existing funds and interagency relationships at the local level
           Promote the systematic involvement of business and employers,
           foundations and the local United Ways, and the K-16 education system in
           the work of school readiness
     Connecticut Governor’s Budget Summary, FY 2006 – FY 2007 Biennium. February 9, 2005. p. 19

        Support state and community strategies to improve the quality of existing
        early care and education services
        Strengthen School Readiness Councils and other community
        collaboratives charged with B-5 comprehensive planning and systems
        Increase both outcomes accountability and flexibility of funding
        Support communities in adoption of the “ready children, ready families,
        ready schools, ready communities” framework
        Engage the CT Early Childhood Research and Policy Council to identify
        community-based best practices and address challenging evaluation and
        policy issues.

Connecticut Early Childhood Research and Policy Council. In addition to its work
on behalf of the expanding Connecticut School Readiness Program, the Early
Childhood Investment Advisory Cabinet will have an important relationship to the new
Connecticut Early Childhood Research and Policy Council, as proposed by the
Governor in the FY 2006 – FY 2007 budget.

The purpose of this new Council is to bring together the best minds in Connecticut to
advise the Cabinet on research findings, policy solutions and strategic financing
opportunities related to the multiyear goal of getting all of the state’s young children to
the kindergarten door fully ready for kindergarten. The Governor’s proposal envisions
the involvement of business and employers, higher education and the philanthropic
community along with legislative, governmental, provider and community
representatives on the Council.21 The proposal further envisions that the Council will
operate outside of government, but be supported at least in part through a grant award
from the State of Connecticut.22 Several members of the Early Childhood Cabinet are
expected to serve as members of the Research and Policy Council as well.

Importantly, the Council will build on the work of the Connecticut DataCONNections
project, a statewide partnership to examine issues in developing school readiness
indicators and identifying research issues related to early care and education.23
Included in the charge of the Council may be to advise the Cabinet on:

        The identification of policy issues on which additional research and
        evaluation would be helpful. This will most certainly include a series of
        workforce-related strategic planning issues.
        Review of evaluation research already completed on the effectiveness of
        Connecticut’s School Readiness Councils and the formal School
        Readiness Program.
   We expect that representatives of the School Readiness Council network and from the Graustein Memorial Fund’s
Discovery Initiative Communities will participate with the Early Childhood Research and Policy Council.
   The Governor’s proposed budget for the coming biennium includes an allocation of $300,000 in each year to
support the work of the Council. It is expected that philanthropic and business contributions will be sought. These
funds are currently located in the FY 06 and FY 07 proposed State Department of Education’s budget.
   This work has been guided by Susan Wilson of the Child Health and Development Institute. A series of reports
and papers produced by DataCONNections are available online at –

        Review of possible strategies to increase the cost efficiency and
        effectiveness of the early care and education “industry.”
        Recommendations on the most appropriate way to build “a business plan”
        for early childhood service expansion, including to achieve universal
        access to quality preschool for the state’s three- and four-year olds
        Recommendations on ways to build and support a network of early
        childhood researchers through Connecticut’s higher education systems,
        including those scholars in business schools interested in public policy
        Identification, acquisition, review and release of information on best
        practices and model programs that promote children’s school readiness.
        Recommendations for evaluation of the state’s new Great Beginnings and
        ”School Readiness Plus” partnerships.

Local Collaboratives: School Readiness Councils. In order to receive funding as
part of Connecticut’s School Readiness Program, eligible school districts must establish
a School Readiness Council.24 Councils are led by the school superintendent and the
mayor, or their designees. Members include parents, early childhood providers, and
representatives of other local organizations serving children. School Readiness
Councils produce an annual report that is submitted to the Connecticut State
Department of Education and also meet as a network, but there is no statewide,
governmental collaborative entity.

School Readiness Councils are mandated to identify local resources, encourage public
participation, facilitate coordination among providers, and make recommendations to
the chief elected official and school superintendent on school readiness issues. There
are also specific “quality” requirements for the local School Readiness Programs:

        A plan for collaboration with other community programs and services,
        including public libraries and for coordination of resources in order to
        facilitate full-day and year-round, child-care and education programs for
        children of working parents and parents in education or training programs
        A plan for integrating children with disabilities
        A plan for professional development of staff
        A plan for the transition of participating children to kindergarten, including
        the transfer of records
        Parent involvement, parenting education and outreach
        Referrals for health service, including referrals for appropriate
        immunizations and screenings
        Access to nutrition services

  Sources: State Department of Education, online at --
Communities with School Readiness Councils as required by legislation: Ansonia, Ashford, Bloomfield, Branford,
Bridgeport, Bristol, Brooklyn, Chaplin, Danbury, Derby, East Hartford, East Haven, Enfield, Greenwich, Griswold,
Hamden, Hartford, Killingly, Manchester, Meriden, Middletown, Milford, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Haven,
New London, Norwalk, Norwich/Groton, Plymouth, Putnam, Shelton, Sprague, Stafford, Stamford, Stonington,
Stratford, Thompson, Torrington, Vernon, Waterbury, West Hartford, West Haven, Winchester, Windham, Windsor.

      Referrals to family literacy programs that incorporate adult basic education
      and provide for the promotion of literacy through access to public library
      Admission policies that promote enrollment of children from different
      racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds and from other communities
      A sliding fee scale for families participating in the program, and
      An annual evaluation of program effectiveness.

A Schematic of Evolving Early Childhood Governance and Collaboration

                                                                       CT Early
                          Early Childhood Investment Cabinet

                      Process of Regular Input

                                         Higher        Business
                                         Ed            Sector
                          Local          Sector
     School Readiness     Communities
     Council Network                    Philanthropy    Health,

Connecticut’s Early Childhood Partners Strategic B-5 Plan

By mid-March 2005, the Connecticut Department of Public Health will release its State
Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Initiative plan, developed with funding and
technical assistance from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services (HHS). Grants were provided by HHS to all states to
assist them in developing a plan for cross-systems service integration necessary to
assure the health and school readiness of children ages birth to five.

Connecticut’s planning initiative involved eight state agencies and statewide institutions
and more than 150 community stakeholders. “The plan proposes creating a ‘point of
common accountability’ in the form of an Early Childhood Cabinet or other

interdepartmental structure for state-level strategic planning with primary responsibility
over early childhood services, including [the Departments of] Social Services, Children
and Families, Public Health, Education and Mental Retardation, and the Secretary of
the Office of Policy and Management.”25

The plan articulates specific goals and objectives necessary for creation of an
“integrated service system across comprehensive health services, early care and
education, and family support and parent education.” Once reviewed and accepted by
the State of Connecticut, this plan could become one of the first agenda items taken up
by the Governor’s Early Childhood Investment Cabinet.26

Likely Action in the 2005 General Assembly Session

It is likely that the statutory basis for the CT School Readiness Program will be
amended during the 2005 CT General Assembly session to create some point of
“common accountability” across state agencies. This expansion may include a shift in its
mandate from a focus on three- and four-year olds in priority school districts and
districts with at least one special needs school to a birth to five focus across all

Among proposed enhancements to the current School Readiness Program, the new
legislative language is likely to call for either a Statewide School Readiness Council or
an Early Childhood Cabinet, to specifically include representatives of the local School
Readiness Councils and other representatives of the state’s evolving community-based
early childhood system(s).

The Bottom Line…

These are exciting times in Connecticut for all who seek to improve the school
readiness of the state’s young children. The present report summarizes findings from a
review of governance structures and processes currently in use in other states to
address issues of early childhood systems building. This report was developed with the
assistance of materials from and conversations with the National Governors
Association, the BUILD initiative, and participants in Connecticut’s Early Childhood
Partners strategic planning initiative, led by the Connecticut Department of Public

In January 2005, Connecticut’s Governor M. Jodi Rell proposed establishment of a new
Early Childhood Investment Advisory Cabinet to provide better management and
coordination of the state’s early childhood resources. She has also proposed creation of

   Connecticut Early Childhood Partners Strategic Plan: Ready State, Ready Communities, Ready Schols, Ready
Families, and Ready Children. February 26 Draft. P. ES-2.
   The plan is available from the CT Department of Public Health, Bureau of Community Health, Maternal and
Child Health Division. Requests for copies should be directed to Martha Okafor at –
   It is notable that there was, in the 1997 draft legislation, language creating a Statewide School Readiness Council,
but it was dropped from the bill in the final moments of the General Assembly’s 1997 session.

the first-ever Connecticut Early Childhood Research and Policy Council to bring the best
minds in Connecticut’s business, philanthropy and higher education communities
together with government and local representatives in the search for best practices,
policy solutions, and a sound strategic “business plan” for service expansion.28

Clearly, Connecticut is moving to establish an interagency leadership and governance
structure at the state agency level that can demonstrably improve strategic planning,
resource development and allocation, service performance and outcomes
accountability. Although the Cabinet, as proposed by Governor M. Jodi Rell, could have
been established by Executive Order (as was done in about half of the states with
children’s cabinets), she has chosen to seek legislative participation and codification in

 Clearly, the stage is set for dramatic changes in the ways that the State of Connecticut
understands and operationalizes its commitment to leadership, governance and
systems building on behalf of the well-being of its youngest children, and their families.

In the January 2005 words of Governor Rell:

         “…We have been called to leadership at a special time in history and we cannot,
         we must not, turn away from our responsibilities. As I said just six months ago
         when I took the oath of office on the north steps of the Capitol, we have been
         given a most unique occasion to govern… The people of Connecticut, and
         history, will judge us by whether we accepted our stewardship simply to preserve
         the comfortable status quo or whether we actually seized it with boldness of

  For a description of these and other elements of the Governor’s Early Childhood Investment Initiative, see
“Connecticut’s Early Childhood Investment Initiative: A Working Budget and Program Summary for Connecticut
Policy Makers.” February 23, 2005. Available from the author.
   M. Jodi Rell, Governor, State of Connecticut. State of State Address to the CT General Assembly, January 5, 2005. Online at –


To top