With the 2014 Connecticut General Assembly session in full-swing, ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander recently testified at an Education Committee hearing on two bills: One expanding early childhood education (SB26) and another establishing the Office of Early Childhood (SB25).
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, if a student is not reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade, they are four times more likely to not graduate high school on time. However, children who participate in high-quality pre-kindergarten programs are more likely to attend college and excel in careers, research shows.
Early childhood learning programs give students the opportunity to begin developing critical learning skills needed to succeed throughout their educational careers. Right now, more than 4,000 three- and four-year-olds in our state do not have access to preschool programs. Investing in these programs makes sense for our kids. Research shows that on average, children who have access to preschool programs gain about one-third of a year of additional learning across language, reading, and math skills.
As we expand preschool options, we also need the state’s Office of Early Childhood to consolidate disparate efforts that have been scattered across agencies, to better serve our children. The new Office must ensure a strong infrastructure to effectively align state resources and supports, improve family outreach and information, and ensure the quality of programs that will prepare more children for kindergarten and beyond.
As Jennifer Alexander testified on March 3, “These efforts will help ensure that more kids across our state, particularly kids who need it most, receive the strong start they need to succeed later in life. They will also help make certain Connecticut remains a place where people want to live and work, companies want to invest and hire, and where our children thrive.”
To read Jennifer Alexander’s full testimony, click here.