Working Families Need Emergency Relief!

Lawmakers can and must deliver immediate financial relief to hard-working families. Connecticut lawmakers recently changed a policy regarding when kids can start kindergarten beginning with this upcoming school year. Prior to this change, kids had to be five years old by December 31st to enroll in kindergarten. Now, kids must be five years old by September 1st to enroll in kindergarten. Now thousands of families are left on the hook for an unexpected childcare bill.

Why Act Now?

The changes in kindergarten eligibility are already most hurting Connecticut's working families. Families are trying to register their children for infant/toddler care, preschool, and kindergarten right now, only to learn they can’t. Desperate parents of four-year-olds are scrambling to try to find and afford an extra year of child care, when they thought their child would be in kindergarten in just a few months. Without emergency action, family stability is at risk.

Connecticut lawmakers need to hear from you today. They need to hear families demanding a delay to this change to ensure there is a thoughtful transition that makes sure all kids, parents, and educators can succeed. Our kids need every parent, grandparent, aunt, cousin, and family friend to demand lawmakers support working parents by:

  • delaying the change, so parents and early childhood educators have time to plan 
  • increasing childcare subsidies by $50 million to help the thousands of families who will need an extra year of childcare that they didn’t expect.

Why Does it Matter?

All children should be able to enter kindergarten ready to learn, grow, and succeed. Connecticut lawmakers must be more thoughtful if they intend to change kindergarten eligibility. A responsible implementation is required so all kids – especially kids from low-income families – can thrive.

  • Right now, around 9,000 Connecticut families who thought their kids would be starting kindergarten suddenly have to find an extra year of childcare that they didn’t expect to need.
  • The average Connecticut family has to pay around $13,000 per year for childcare – for families already living paycheck to paycheck, that is an astronomical amount of money that they may not be able to afford.
  • The rushed change is preventing young kids from accessing education. Preschools are changing age requirements and infant/toddler classrooms are filling up, because thousands of four-year-olds are unexpectedly not moving on to kindergarten. Younger children are stuck without a place to go as a result.
  • Some families are able to get subsidies to help with the cost of childcare, but not everyone who needs them has access, the waitlist for subsidies is long, and this change is making those waitlists even longer. Even worse, the state is already in an affordable childcare crisis, making early childcare spots hard to find.
  • Adding 9,000 unexpected extra children to the demand for spots is putting unnecessary pressure on early childcare educators and making it even harder for all families to find spots for their kids.

The Starting with Equity Campaign is an initiative by the Connecticut Project Action Fund, a non-partisan 501(c)4 non-profit organization that mobilizes people and partners to advocate for solutions that better the lives of Connecticut's vulnerable and financially distressed families. Signing this petition also adds your name to an open letter from parents, advocates, and organizations calling for legislative action.