Budget provides funding to early childhood education - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Newly approved budget provides funding to early childhood education

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The state budget approved by both chambers over the weekend includes $12 million for early childhood education.

The money will expand smart start programs in public schools and will add more than 5,000 new slots for pre-kindergarten. This investment could help thousands of children from falling behind.

During his State of the State address, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said one of his goals was to have universal pre-K in Connecticut, which meant every child would have that opportunity.

Malloy said he feels the two bills passed over the weekend are moving in that direction.

Children at the Susanna Wesley Pre-School in Shelton are fortunate because they are getting hands-on learning before they start kindergarten.

"Sometimes I see a lot of parents who have two or three jobs just to maintain the family standard," said Shelton parent Vanessa Pardo-Costeines, who said she had to cut back on other expenses to afford pre-school.

Malloy visited Susanna Wesley Pre-School where they have piloted "CT Best," which is a special program where private companies are giving scholarships to families helping them pay for pre-K. 

"Under-stimulated children in young ages will not perform as well as they might of throughout the rest of their lives," Malloy said.

Dozens rallied at the State Capitol in Hartford on Monday. They praised Connecticut lawmakers for giving children a better education and helping parents pay for it.

"As you can see we have a large crowd of early childhood advocates who have worked on this for the last five years," ralliers chanted. 

Two bills passed this session will add more than 1,000 new slots for pre-kindergarten and the state's smart start program was expanded. There are 5,000 more children who will be able to attend early education classes at their public schools. 

Children in pre-school tend to have better learning skills and have better vocabularies, officials said.  

"A preschool education sets the foundation for the children and puts them at a level playing field when they enter kindergarten," said Robert Cenci, who is the program director at Susanna Wesley Pre-School.

Both bills now go to the governor for his signature, and he said he plans to sign them both.   

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