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Governor Lamont signs executive order greenlighting child care panel in Connecticut

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Eddy Martinez
/
Connecticut Public
The executive order signed by Gov. Ned Lamont on Friday will create a 23-person panel that includes child care providers, state politicians and human resource professionals. It will work on a number of issues, including child care accessibility, equity and costs.

Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order Friday setting up a statewide panel tasked with developing a plan to improve access to child care within Connecticut. Lamont signed the order at the U.S. headquarters for Boehringer Ingelheim, a biopharmaceutical company based in Ridgefield. It’s one of the few companies in the state that offers in-house day care services.

Lamont said the panel is a priority for his administration.

“This board, this commission, this blue-ribbon [panel]. I take it very seriously,” Lamont said.

The panel is made up of 23 people who specialize in various careers, such as child care providers, state politicians and human resource professionals. The panel will work on a number of issues, including child care accessibility, equity and costs.

Beth Bye, the commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, says that the state has a difficult-to-wield child care system and that the panel is charged with offering solutions.

“Connecticut has a complex array of programs aimed at supporting high-quality, affordable child care. It can be simplified, and we can better maximize and leverage the reach of these investments with focus and planning,” Bye said.

The Connecticut State Employees Association (CSEA SEIU), a public service employee union, praised the executive order. The union has taken issue with the panel for not being diverse enough and not having enough home-based child care providers.

Eva Bermudez-Zimmerman, the child care director for CSEA SEIU, said that the governor’s executive order is well intentioned and that the union has spoken with the governor regarding child care on multiple occasions.

But she said the panel is missing crucial perspectives.

“The blue-ribbon panel — when the majority of the panelists are business-centered, 90% of the panel come from a corporate background, and none of them currently serve as a home-based provider, and there's only one child care center provider on the panel — is really concerning,” Bermudez-Zimmerman said.

She said home-based providers have suffered from a lack of health care coverage, which has impacted home-based providers who had to deal with health issues. The union wants a say in these discussions as well, she said.

“We just want to make sure that we’re not siloed and those conversations are not in a vacuum,” she said.

A review of the panel provided by the governor’s office shows it includes several human resource officials from various companies, state leaders, politicians, academics and child care advocates, among others.

Bermudez-Zimmerman previously wrote an op-ed for the CT Mirror criticizing Lamont for his budget proposal in early March. She wrote that the proposal would have reduced the amount of families that could benefit from the Care 4 Kids program, which offers subsidies for child care to low- and moderate-income residents.

She also took issue with what she said was the lack of diversity on the panel. But Bye said after the event that the panel is made up of people from all over the state.

“For the panel, what we were looking for is to get people from all parts of the state, representing our state racially and culturally,” Bye said. “[It's] important to have business at the table, early childhood experts, family child care, parents and center providers.”

The panel is expected to present a final plan to the governor by December. Lamont has also proposed a series of incentives for businesses to provide more child care access. Businesses could receive a tax credit of 25% if approved for the 2024-25 state budget.