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Middletown educators meet the new state Office of Early Childhood

Middletown educators meet the new state Office of Early Childhood

By Kaitlyn Schroyer, The Middletown Press

Friday, November 15, 2013

MIDDLETOWN >> Local early-childhood care providers and educators gathered Thursday to learn about the state’s new Office of Early Childhood and its application for the “Race to the Top” grant.

Joining the Middlesex Coalition for Children was the office’s Executive Director Myra Jones-Taylor, Strategic Planning Manager and Race to the Top Project Manager Mary Farnsworth, and Director of Government and Community Relations Maggie Adair.

The Office of Early Childhood was created by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in order to bring together many of the smaller organizations working to improve early childhood resources for children from birth to 5 years old.

“We had truly a mess before,” Jones-Taylor said. “There was no actual system, no alignment or consistency.”

The office brings together five different organizations previously run by other departments including the Department of Public Health and the Department of Education.

“We want it to be one-stop shopping for families and agencies,” Jones-Taylor said.

The office will be responsible for licensing child care locations, a job previously held by the Department of Public Health.

“If we can’t ensure a child is in a safe place,” said Jones-Taylor, “we can’t do anything else for development.”

The office has also been in the process of applying for a $37.3 million federal grant through the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, which will give out a total of about $280 million to help states improve the quality of early learning and development and close educational gaps for children with high needs.

Jones-Taylor also stressed the importance of closing “the opportunity gap,” or the difference in resources received by kids in different programs.

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