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Week of Young Child Prompts Call for Own Department

April 11, 2011

HAMDEN, Conn. - It's the Week of the Young Child through Saturday, and in Connecticut, the designation is being used to promote reorganizing services to better meet the needs of young ones and their families. Advocates say they appreciate Gov. Dannel Malloy's commitment to this constituency, but add that currently funding comes through multiple agencies.

Karen Rainville, executive director of the Connecticut Association for the Education of Young Children, says a Department of Early Childhood would streamline their efforts.

"It's taking existing programs and existing staff and funding that are scattered throughout departments and moving them into one department, which would create savings in the long run if you look at duplication of efforts."

She says this week is an especially good time to learn about the needs of young children and their parents, to ensure that children are in high quality learning environments that foster creativity, pre-literacy and math skills, and social development.

Rainville says her organization considers the needs of children from birth to age 8 as a continuum, and every year is critically important.

"The needs of younger children are much different than when they get to public school age. We try to encompass those ages in terms of understanding that they learn differently. They have different needs, and families have different needs of children of those ages."

She says many activities to celebrate the week are being held in cities and towns across the state.

"There are literacy activities with families, children's art galleries, professional development activities for staff."

The National Association for the Education of Young Children established the Week of the Young Child in 1971 as a way of recognizing that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for a child's success in school and later life.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT