OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1103 (File 840, as amended by Senate “A”)*

AN ACT CONCERNING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION.

SUMMARY:

This bill creates, by July 1, 2013, a coordinated system of early care and education and child development (i. e. , “system”) and requires the governor to appoint a planning director, by July 15, 2011, to develop a plan to implement the new system. The bill lists the new system's duties and the items the planning director, who is within the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), must consider in developing the implementation plan.

The bill requires various state agencies to assist the planning director in the plan's development.

It requires the system to collaborate with local and regional early childhood councils to implement the system at the local level. The bill lists the childhood councils duties in the collaboration.

It requires the planning director to report to the Early Childhood Education Cabinet and several committees of the General Assembly, at certain points in time, regarding progress of the system's planning and implementation.

The bill eliminates the State Department of Education's (SDE) Office of Early Childhood Planning, Outreach, and Coordination and all of its duties.

It also changes the membership of the Early Childhood Education Cabinet and expands it from 17 to 20.

*Senate Amendment “A” adds the provisions creating a coordinated system of early care and education and child development and adds the members of the early childhood cabinet who are selected by the House and Senate majority leaders.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2011

502 — EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM PLANNING DIRECTOR

The bill requires the governor to appoint, in consultation with the early childhood cabinet, a planning director within OPM to plan and develop the system. The appointment must be made (1) within available appropriations or funded by donations from private sources or federal funds and (2) by July 15, 2011.

502(B)-(D) — SYSTEM PLAN

The director must develop a plan for the system that consolidates existing early childhood education and child care programs and services for children from birth to eight years of age into a coordinated system that attempts to:

1. reduce the academic achievement gap;

2. increase participation in early childhood education programs;

3. increase parent engagement, family literacy, and parenting skills;

4. increase oral language development and social competence;

5. decrease special education placements; and

6. support parents and guardians of young children to find and retain employment and encourage such parents and guardians to attend work training programs.

Consolidation may include school readiness programs, Head Start, the family resource center program established in law, child care facilities, and state-contracted child care center program guidelines, the birth-to-three program, professional development activities relating to early childhood education, and any other relevant early childhood programs and services.

The bill requires the planning director, when developing the plan, to:

1. consider opportunities for consolidation between and within agencies to reduce redundancy and to improve the focus on positive outcomes for children and families;

2. seek areas of consolidation between and within agencies;

3. provide for the creation of memoranda of agreement (MOA) between the coordinated system and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations;

4. identify opportunities to align services and meet the holistic needs of children and families;

5. implement an accountability framework to measure program and service outcomes;

6. identify common requirements for funding from various sources and identify waiver provisions related to these requirements that can be used to improve service delivery in the state;

7. identify barriers under state or federal law that inhibit effective consolidation of functions or use of interagency agreements;

8. consult with qualified local and regional planning groups; and

9. focus the MOA to relevant program areas, such as maternal and child health, literacy, family support, financial planning and early care and education.

For purposes of the system plan development, the planning director can enter into MOA with and accept donations from nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

The departments of Education, Social Services, Public Health, Children and Families, Developmental Services, and Higher Education must assist the planning director in the planning and development of the system plan.

501(A) & (B) — EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM

The bill creates, by July 1, 2013, a coordinated system of early care and education and child development that must consist of comprehensive and aligned policies, responsibilities, practices and services for young children and their families, including prenatal care and care for children from birth to age eight to ensure optimal health, safety and learning for each child. The policies, practices, and services must be in accordance with the plan developed by the planning director established under the bill.

This system must:

1. create a unified set of reporting requirements for (a) school readiness; (b) Head Start; (c) family resource centers; (d) child care programs, facilities, and licensing; (e) Birth to Three; (f) professional development activities relating to early childhood education; and (g) other relevant early childhood programs and services, in order to collect data necessary for quality assessments and longitudinal analysis;

2. compare and analyze the data collected in (1) of this list with the data collected in the statewide public school information system for population-level analysis of children and families;

3. develop and update appropriate early learning standards and assessment tools for children ages birth to five years that are age and developmentally appropriate and are aligned with existing learning standards as of July 1, 2013 and assessment tools for students in grades kindergarten to twelve;

4. monitor and evaluate all early childhood education and child care programs and services, focusing on program outcomes in satisfying the health, safety, developmental, and educational needs of all children;

5. develop indicators that assess strategies designed to strengthen the family through parental involvement in a child's development and education, including children with special needs;

6. increase the availability of early childhood education and child care programs and services and encourage the providers to work together to create options that allow families to participate in programs that serve other individual needs;

7. provide information and technical assistance to people seeking programs and services;

8. help state agencies and municipalities obtain available federal funding for early childhood education and child care programs and services;

9. provide technical assistance and consultation to licensed providers of early childhood education and child care programs and services and assist any potential provider in obtaining licensure and certification;

10. create, implement, and maintain a quality rating and improvement system that covers home-based, center-based, and school-based early child care and learning;

11. maintain an accreditation system to help early childhood education and child care programs and services achieve national standards and program improvement;

12. create partnerships between state agencies and philanthropic organizations to assist in the system's implementation;

13. align the system's policy and program goals with those of the Early Childhood Education Cabinet and the Head Start advisory committee;

14. ensure a coordinated and comprehensive state-wide system of professional development for providers of early childhood education and child care programs and services;

15. develop family-centered services that assist families in their communities;

16. provide families with opportunities for choice in services including quality child care;

17. integrate early childhood education and special education services;

18. emphasize targeted research-based interventions;

19. organize services into a coherent system;

20. coordinate a comprehensive and accessible delivery system for early childhood education and child care services;

21. focus on performance measures to ensure that services are accountable, effective and accessible to the consumer;

22. promote universal access to early childhood care and education;

23. ensure non-duplication of monitoring and evaluation;

24. encourage, promote and coordinate funding to establish and administer local and regional early childhood councils that implement local and regional birth-to-eight systems; and

25. perform any other activities to assist in providing early childhood education and child care programs and services.

501 (C ) & (D) — SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION

The bill requires the system to collaborate with local and regional early childhood councils to implement the system at the local level.

The early childhood councils must:

1. develop and implement a comprehensive plan for an early childhood system for the community the council serves;

2. develop policy and program planning;

3. encourage community participation by emphasizing substantial parental involvement;

4. collect, analyze, and evaluate data focusing on program and service outcomes;

5. allocate resources; and

6. perform any other functions to assist in providing early childhood programs and services.

The early childhood councils may enter into MOA with the local or regional school readiness council of the town or region the early childhood council serves to perform the duties and functions of a school readiness council in accordance the law creating them, or if no such local or regional school readiness council exists for the town or region of such early childhood council, perform the duties and functions that a local readiness council would perform.

The system may enter into MOA with and accept donations from nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to implement the system at the local level. It is unclear how a system can enter into a MOA as the bill does not authorize a person to legally act on the system's behalf (Section 502 of the bill specifically authorizes the planning director to enter into MOA regarding the planning process).

502 (E) — REPORTING ON PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION PROGRESS

The bill imposes various reporting requirements on the planning director.

From October 1, 2011 to July 1, 2013, the planning director must report quarterly to the early childhood cabinet. The report may include, but is not limited to:

1. recommendations regarding agency consolidation to improve coordination within the system;

2. suggestions on how federal, state and local resources can be combined to maximize system efficiencies and outcomes for children and families;

3. suggestions to improve the manner in which state and local early childhood education initiatives are coordinated to provide holistic, affordable, high quality, early education for young children;

4. recommendations for system improvements; and

5. assurances that the statutory guidelines for state-contracted child care center programs are being preserved in the planning and development of the coordinated system.

From January 1, 2012, to July 1, 2013, the planning director must semiannually report to the Appropriations, Human Services and Education committees. The report may include the same list of items above for quarterly reports to the early childhood cabinet.

By January 30, 2013, the planning director must report to the Appropriations, Human Services and Education committees with recommendations on the department to serve as the lead agency and where the staff of the coordinated system will be located.

503 — AGENCIES BASED IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

The bill requires the early childhood cabinet, the director of the Connecticut Head Start Collaboration Office, the Head Start advisory committee, and the Accreditation Facilitation Project of Connecticut Charts-A-Course to be based in the SDE for purposes of (1) system planning and development and (2) working with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. It is unclear whether this means these entities will physically move to different locations or they are under the direction of the SDE. Currently, the Head Start Collaboration Office is part of the Department of Social Services (DSS) and is located there.

2 — OFFICE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD PLANNING ELIMINATED

The bill eliminates the Office of Early Childhood Planning and its following duties:

1. planning, developing, and coordinating, with other agencies, the delivery of services to children from birth to nine years old;

2. coordinating the implementation of an Early Childhood Education Information System capable of tracking numerous elements of school readiness programs and the children they serve;

3. developing and reporting on an early childhood accountability plan, in consultation with the cabinet;

4. implementing a communications strategy for outreach to families, service providers, and policymakers;

5. starting, not later than September 1, 2011, a statewide longitudinal evaluation of early childhood programs, in consultation with DSS; and

6. developing, coordinating, and supporting public and private partnerships to aid early childhood initiatives.

1 — EARLY CHILDHOOD CABINET MEMBERSHIP

The cabinet is made up of various department heads or their representatives, including SDE, DSS, and the Department of Public Health, plus legislators and representatives of prekindergarten programs.

The bill changes and expands the cabinet membership as follows, it:

1. replaces the mental health and addiction services commissioner or her designee, with the children and families commissioner;

2. changes the House minority leader's appointment from a Head Start program representative to a parent of a child attending a school readiness program;

3. adds the House majority leader's appointment of a Connecticut Family Resource Center Alliance representative;

4. adds the Senate majority leader's appointment of a state funded child care center representative; and

5. increases the gubernatorial appointments from one to two by adding a representative of the CT Head Start Association.

BACKGROUND

School Readiness

School readiness programs provide nonsectarian developmentally appropriate learning for children ages three and four (and five year olds who are not eligible to enroll in school or choose school readiness instead according to statute). The programs must provide at least 450 hours over at least 180 days, with some exceptions, and must meet state standards (CGS 10-16p).

Early Childhood Cabinet's Duties to Satisfy Federal Head Start

The cabinet carries out various coordination and planning duties and submits annual reports to the legislature regarding the health, safety, and learning of children birth to nine years of age (CGS 10-16z(b)). These duties are required to satisfy the federal Head Start Act of 2007 (P. L. 110-134).

Legislative History

The Senate referred the bill (File 507) to the Appropriations Committee, which reported a substitute deleting language that transferred some of the Office of Early Childhood Planning's duties to SDE, while eliminating other duties.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

32

Nay

0

(03/25/2011)

Human Services Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

16

Nay

0

(04/28/2011)

Appropriations Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

51

Nay

0

(05/10/2011)

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

14

Nay

0

(06/01/2011)