Expansion of Magnet and Charter Schools 

These schools are a result of the Sheff v. O'Neil lawsuit and subsequent court ruling that mandates an integrated education for children that is not materially impaired by racial or ethnic isolation. It did not apply to preschool. However, when these schools were not attracting sufficient suburban children to meet the required quotas, their solution was to provide free preschool to "lottery winners". In this manner they are "stuffing" the preschools with suburban children ... most of whom return to their public school systems starting in kindergarten.

The inclusion of pre-kindergarten programs in the magnet schools has been devastating for many private child care providers. Many of us have seen a 30-50% decrease in preschool enrollments and some have even been forced to shut down. We cannot compete with "free", which we're being asked to do with our own tax dollars. And it is not just our enrollments ... we assist our teachers in attaining higher levels of education and gaining valuable experience only to have them lured into magnet programs that are able to use our tax dollars to pay them significantly more than private programs.

An initiative was passed in 2013 that would implement a sliding scale charge based upon family's ability to pay. However, to date it hasn't been implemented and there is considerable doubt that it will without further legislation.

More magnet schools are coming in other areas of the state.

During the coming year CCCA will be working on several fronts:
  • Work towards putting teeth into the sliding scale tuition legislation
  • Document that these children return to their public schools after preschool
  • Make legislators aware of this
  • Determine the attitudes of the Sheff movement towards this practice

State Licensing and Regulation  

In July of this year the childcare licensing unit moved into the newly created Office of Early Childhood. In addition to revising the requirement to annual inspections, 24 new licensors are being added to the staff.

The problems licensed programs have had with licensing are well documented. Many of the regulations are overly broad and subject to varying interpretations by licensors. Over the past two years CCCA has successfully been a liaison between its members and licensing on many issues. We've been able to clarify some of the more poorly written regulations and gain policy changes for some that present unintended requirements.

During the coming year we expect to have legislation proposed to change some of the more vexing regs. We will also continue to be a source of expertise to our members and an option for presenting issues that individual programs might not wish to broach themselves.

School Readiness Teacher Requirements

During the past legislation session a measure to increase school readiness slots by 4,010 was passed. These spots enable low income children in specific towns to attend preschool.
  • There are very specific teacher requirements in order to be qualified to accept these children. For 2015 50% of all lead teachers must have a BA in ECE or a related field and all lead teachers must have at a minimum an Associates degree in ECE.
  • The problem is that these requirements aren't confined to preschool classrooms, but must be met by all infant and toddler classrooms as well. This makes it nearly impossible for full service centers to comply.
During the coming year CCCA will work towards have teacher credentials limited to just preschool classrooms.

Implementation of the QRIS (Quality Rating Improvement System)

Connecticut is implementing a Childcare rating system which will determine how public funds are allocated to individual programs. Ultimately Centers with more stars will be eligible for higher reimbursement rates (Care4kids, DCF, School Readiness funds). Just as important, our clients will be using this to compare centers when they are shopping for childcare.

Because funding for this is very limited, OEC has stated that their focus would be on the quality improvement aspect rather than the rating system. CCCA recently attended a focus group on where funds might best be allocated. Our input was that they not be limited to the same schools that are already receiving the bulk of public funding, and that efforts be made to take steps to improve the quality of all programs in the state. We will continue our dialogue with OEC in this regard.

Other Issues

Each new legislative session brings new proposed legislation that will impact our programs. Last session, for example, saw a proposal to regulate the milk and juice we serve our children in a manner that would have been a nightmare to regulate. CCCA provided input in this regard. Fortunately it didn't pass. There WILL be new proposals, as yet unknown, that will arise and it is critical that we be in a position to represent ourselves.