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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Report: CT early childhood education needs improvements

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Wednesday, January 17, 2024   

Child advocates feel early childhood education must be a top-of-mind issue for Connecticut lawmakers.

A new report found early learning in the state is dogged by high costs to parents, low wages for staff, and other issues.

Federal pandemic funds bolstered the flailing system for a time. Since those dollars are gone, the state and other groups are looking for ways to improve child care.

Carla Abdo-Katsipis, research and policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children, said family child care home providers are disappearing faster than others.

"The total number of licensed FCCs dropped from 1,908 in 2022 to 1,817 in 2023, a reduction of 91 providers," Abdo-Katsipis reported.

She added in the last 20 years, more than 1,300 family child care providers have left the industry. Last year, Gov. Ned Lamont and the Office of Early Childhood created a blue-ribbon panel to develop best practices for revitalizing early childhood education. Its recommendations include investing in workforce compensation, developing pathways to employment, and prioritizing under-resourced communities when developing new education centers.

Deficiencies in child care also affect students in special education programs. The number of pre-K public school children who need individualized education plans increased by 16% from 2012 to 2022. Abdo-Katsipis described the challenges the issues present for special education students.

"There is increased difficulty in finding child care for children with special needs, as the number of providers with appropriate qualifications is limited," Abdo-Katsipis explained. "Children with special needs are 30% more likely to experience preschool expulsion than their peers. This too is a function of recognizing that a child has special needs."

Since the state is seeing an increase in students with special needs, the report calls for an expansion of home-visiting programs to help the families of special needs children.

Disclosure: Connecticut Voices for Children contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Education, and Juvenile Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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