OEC & CSCU launch partnership to assist students to afford child care
(Hartford, CT) – Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) Commissioner Beth Bye and Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) Interim President Dr. Jane Gates today announced a unique pilot program that will open up opportunities for low-income parents with young children to earn a higher education credential by providing access to child care. By pairing training with child care, parents are more likely to complete higher education programs, benefiting families and the state’s workforce and economy.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients who enroll in an approved SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program at any CSCU community college will be eligible to receive a child care subsidy, funded by the Office of Early Childhood, which will cover both class and study hours.
The SNAP E&T program, administered by the Department of Social Services (DSS) at the state level and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) at the federal level, is a voluntary, employment-driven and skills-based work program and part of the state’s comprehensive workforce development system. It provides full scholarships to eligible SNAP recipients at every community college in the state and a number of community-based organizations.
Food insecurity has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic and SNAP has become an important lifeline for many individuals and families. With many SNAP recipients also experiencing disruptions in employment, the SNAP E&T scholarship and child care subsidy can jumpstart a new career in a high demand field.
“We know that lack of access to child care is a major barrier for students to succeed in higher education studies. Our state agency is excited to dedicate child care funding to support parents with young children enrolled in SNAP Employment and Training,” said Commissioner Bye.
Connecticut’s SNAP E&T program is often cited as a promising model nationwide as it works with the state’s Department of Labor to link SNAP recipients to higher education courses in high-demand fields and is the first state in New England to establish partnerships with all of its community colleges.
“Many of our community college students face significant nonacademic barriers to graduation,” said Dr. Gates. “From food insecurity, to lack of reliable transportation options, to mental health challenges, there are many factors that prevent students from completing their education, but perhaps none is more significant than child care. This pilot program will help students who are also parents complete their studies and better their lives.”
“SNAP E&T not only helps thousands of Connecticut residents embark on new and promising career paths, it supports employers and our economy in general by reinforcing a well-trained workforce to meet employment trends and demands,” said DSS Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford. “This is especially important as we recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency. DSS is proud to partner with CSCU and OEC in expanding meaningful educational opportunities for SNAP enrollees. The new child care benefit initiative will be a tremendous help to parents in achieving their educational and career goals.”
According to the Connecticut Office of Higher Education, about 70 percent of workers will require more education than just a high school diploma by 2025. However, parents face significant barriers to higher education enrollment and completion, with child care cited as one of the difficult to overcome.
“Capital recognizes that – for our students who are parents – ensuring that reliable child care is in place takes precedence over academics,” said Dr. Duncan Harris, CEO of Capital Community College. “As the parent of three children, I understand that awesome responsibility and, at times, the challenge it can be raising children. This program will ensure that our students don’t need to choose between being a responsible parent and a committed student when arranging care for their children.”
Boosting the employment prospects of parents has a multi-generational effect. Not only does a higher education credential often lead to stable employment and a higher wage for the parent, but it also means improved health and education outcomes for their children. Studies show that when young children live in households that experience wage increases during their early years, they themselves are more likely to earn higher wages as adults.
“The Governor’s Workforce Council is proud to support this innovative partnership that will improve access to higher education,” said Kelli-Marie Vallieres, Executive Director of Connecticut’s Office of Workforce Strategy and Vice-Chair of the Governor’s Workforce Council. “While the public health crisis has disrupted our economy and the careers of many parents, SNAP E&T scholarships are an important component in our effort to rebuild the workforce and ensure residents are equipped with the modern skills to achieve a stable career. With the provision of a child care subsidy, parents can now pursue in-demand short-term certificates and other higher education programs while their children are in a safe setting.”
Through an existing partnership with OEC, the University of Connecticut-School of Social Work will evaluate the impact of child care subsidies on student and family outcomes. This evaluation will help the state better understand the social and economic impact of linking child care with higher education opportunities.
For more information about the SNAP Employment & Training Program, please visit: https://portal.ct.gov/DSS/SNAP/SNAP-Employment-and-Training
Office of Early Childhood
Connecticut State Colleges and Universities