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Malloy Floats Bold Idea In Speech To Early Childhood Advocates

by Christine Stuart | Sep 5, 2014 11:00am
(15) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education, Nonprofits, Poetry, Hartford

Christine Stuart photo

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy addresses the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance at the Lyceum in Hartford Thursday

Should we pay at-risk parents a minimum wage to attend school with their preschool age children? That’s an idea that Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy floated Thursday during a speech to the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance.

He said the idea would be to help these parents through their own maladies or mental illnesses or even intergenerational unemployment and turn them into productive employees. He opined it would probably cost far less than having their children repeat a cycle of poverty.

“There are things we should be thinking about outside the box,” he told the group of early childhood providers Thursday.

He admitted that the idea hasn’t been fully fleshed out and wasn’t necessarily a proposal.

“You just asked me about a thought,” Malloy said. “. . . It was a theoretical presentation of an idea.”

Malloy suggested that it would be easy to identify 1,000, 2,000, or even 3,000 at-risk parents per year. And if the state concentrated on those parents “imagine what a difference that would make,” he added.

“Now, it’s not cheap, but neither is the alternative,” Malloy said.

He said if the system can start identifying these parents and children most at-risk then “we can start thinking further and further outside the box.”

Earlier in his speech to the group Malloy explained that maternity nurses already know which parents are most at-risk and someone needs to build a system to support those parents with services when they leave the hospital. Malloy said he can’t build that system, but he can fund it.

“If we had somebody at every hospital, at every birth, we could probably figure out which babies we need to concentrate on the most,” Malloy said. “I think we need to build a system that identifies the babies we need to support.”

The comment received a round of applause.

Merrill Gay, executive director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, said he’s encouraged by Malloy’s depth of understanding of these issues.

“It’s really refreshing to have someone in a position of power who gets it,” Gay said.

However, Gay noted his organization is nonpartisan and doesn’t make endorsements of political candidates.

As far as Malloy’s proposal to pay at-risk parents to attend school with their children, “that was probably not a very well thought through proposal yet, but it’s thinking outside-of-the-box about what it will take to address those most at-risk families,” Gay said. “It’s an interesting idea. I’m glad to see he’s thinking outside-of-the-box.”

Gay said it made him think of a statistic regarding mothers who don’t finish high school — their children are 11 times more likely to drop out of high school than those whose mothers attended college.

He said there are a lot of statistics about education, but “nothing is 11 times.” And since a person’s educationl level is listed on their child’s birth certificate, it’s known from birth which children are the most likely to succeed.

“We know at birth who those people are who are most at-risk,” Gay said. What has to happen next is someone has to design a system “that intentionally tries to reach families who are at-risk with services that are appropriately designed.”

Gay pointed out that “it’s the wealthy kids who go to college and don’t come back. The poor kids coming out of our cities are the ones most likely to be in the workforce down the road. We need to make sure we’re closing that gap. To simply say this is the schools’ problem — that’s not what the research tells us.”

Malloy’s opponent, the former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley, was invited to speak to the group but was unable to attend Thursday. Gay said they hoped to find a time for Foley to address the group in the future.

In a phone interview Thursday, Foley wondered “who would be paying” these parents minimum wage?

He said if the proposal is to have the state pay the parents, then he thinks the idea is “ridiculous.”

That’s not to say that Foley, who has two preschool age children, doesn’t believe in state funding for preschool.

Foley said preschool is “one of the things shown to be effective,” and it’s the “one thing Gov. Malloy and I agree on.”

But Foley said the money to help fund preschool education should be “based on need.”

He said he pays for his children to have an educational experience because he can afford it. He said the state should be helping fund slots for children based on their parents’ income.

Earlier this year the legislature and Malloy created an Office of Early Childhood and funded an additional 1,020 slots for preschool students. The legislation also asked the Office of Early Childhood to come up with a plan for universal access for 3- and 4-year-olds. The funding for the program will come from a combination of bonding and will also use Tobacco Settlement Funds.

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(15) Comments

posted by: Commuter | September 5, 2014  12:00pm

This is exactly the kind of thinking we need going forward.

This line of thought is how we reduce costs and improve outcomes structurally, including education costs, health care costs, crime, and poverty related costs.

Correspondingly it improves education performance where we need it most, the physical and mental health in the families where we have the most room for improvement, and that is directly supportive of children who grow up to become producers of economic value and contributors to the community, which lowers crime and poverty and improves quality of life by supporting healthy families.

That improves our neighborhoods from the inside out.

And Foley, again, demonstrates that he no grasp of the subject whatsoever, much less a clue what to do about it.

posted by: freddy69 | September 5, 2014  3:04pm

Welcome to the nanny state!! Advocates of big government often talk about providing education to bend the cost curve. The problem is that they cannot provide a single example of this working in the real world while countless examples show these types of programs to be failures

posted by: SocialButterfly | September 5, 2014  4:23pm

@Commuter: You agree the kind of thinking necessary to improve Malloy’s performance, but why hasn’t it worked for him so far?  He hasn’t reduced costs and improved outcomes structurally, including education costs, health care costs, crime, and poverty related costs.  That’s why voters will vote in Tom Foley at the polls on Election Day.

posted by: art vandelay | September 5, 2014  4:43pm

art vandelay

Granted it is an interesting idea and thinking outside the box.  Wouldn’t pre-school teachers have enough on their hands with 30 kids just out of diapers let alone dealing with their parents at the same time?

posted by: Commuter | September 5, 2014  5:48pm

In fact, SocialButterfly, it is exactly the kind of thinking reflected - as the article recounts - in Malloy’s establishment of the Office of Early Childhood, amongst other initiatives.

And he has saved the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars in reduced employee costs and debt service costs with his fiscal management.

And crime is down dramatically in Connecticut.


And Malloy has increased education spending, especially to the districts that need it most. And Connecticut’s achievement gap has been reduced significantly. And Connecticut is at the top of the country in reading.

And he has increased financial support to municipalities, helping them keep tax increases in check.

And Connecticut’s implementation of Obamacare is a model for the country - so good that it is being exported to other states, and it’s executive was just run Obamacare nationally.

Tom Foley? He might make an OK State Rep from Greenwich. Or that might be too much for him (no offense to State Reps). Foley is so clueless its painful, and the CT GOP has a carton of egg on its face for nominated him. Twice.

posted by: Noteworthy | September 5, 2014  6:14pm

I’m interested in the word “bold.” When we are carrying monster sized debt,  have projected billions in deficits and have not balanced the budget sans gimmicks or fully funded programs and promises already operating - how is it we can even consider a move that conservatively will cost several hundred million dollars or more? Bold or reckless?

posted by: christopherschaefer | September 5, 2014  9:09pm

Have the state pay at-risk parents a minimum wage: this would be consistent with the fact that the state is CT’s largest employer. While we’re at it, let’s just put EVERYONE on the state payroll. We can pay them with borrowed money and use the tax on their income to pay the interest on the borrowed money. It’s “probably not a very well thought through proposal yet” but we’ll let the next generation worry about that.

posted by: CitizenCT | September 6, 2014  7:40am

Maybe I don’t get it but how would a 16+ year old at risk parent attending preschool benefit or help them “through their own maladies or mental illnesses or even intergenerational unemployment and turn them into productive employees.”?  Attending preschool at an advanced age makes you a better parent?  Seems like a program offering to pay prospective parents incentivizes having children their ill prepared to raise.  Want to get paid to play with Leggos?  Have a baby.

posted by: One and Done | September 6, 2014  7:48am

Why stop there?  Give them breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a union card.  Pay for all of this with the money tree we have.

posted by: SocialButterfly | September 6, 2014  7:24pm

@Noteworthy: You tell the truth about our monster sized debt something Commuter is closing his eyes to. Tom Foley has a big job ahead of him, but he master the fiscal disaster that Malloy will leave in his lap.

posted by: art vandelay | September 6, 2014  8:37pm

art vandelay

@Commuter,
Might you be a paid blogger for the Connecticut State Democrat Party.  It seems you can find absolutely ZERO fault with what the Democrats & Malloy are doing in this state.  Is there one ONE thing you disagree with them on?  Between you and Betsy I think you’re drunk on their Kool-Aid.  Do you honestly believe the all the numbers Malloy & his team publish.

posted by: Commuter | September 7, 2014  12:39am

Art, as I’ve said time and time again, you can check out the things I say using nothing more than a bit of curiosity and a few keystrokes.

I understand that the partisan Republicans that comment on these articles, be they paid operatives or innocently misinformed cranks, want to dismiss everything that Malloy has accomplished, and acknowledge no responsibility for the mismanagement of state government under four terms of Rowland & Rell.

But the facts are what they are, and unless and until someone - anyone - provides something resembling data and facts to support what they say, I feel no obligation to grant a single point.

Note that there has not been one remark anywhere - and not but a predictably reflexive and uninformed off the cuff response from Foley - that examines the premise of the idea (and Malloy clearly said that it was just an idea). All we get is the same old reactionary blather.

The question is really whether or not this will improve outcomes and reduce the impacts - including financial impacts - on the community.

I challenge you to demand an informed debate about that. Your candidate sure can’t handle it. But you could demand it.

posted by: Joebigjoe | September 7, 2014  7:51am

If someone is at risk wouldnt that mean that they probably arent working, so we the working tax payers, are paying them already with the govt handouts.

That’s the idiotic part of Malloys idea, but he is on to something. I wouldnt be mad if he said that these at risk parents were mandated to go to parenting classes, get drug tested and successfully complete life skills classes while the kids were at child care.

For that I would give them min wage on top of their govt handouts for the hours they spend doing that. Of course, some evil conservative group that doesnt believe in people standing on their own two feet to be productive members of society would file a law suit on the drug testing and the mandate parts.

posted by: SocialButterfly | September 7, 2014  11:27am

@art vandeley:  Commuter and Betsy can’t be getting drunk on only Kool-Aid. They must be sharing Malloy’s Imported Irish Whiskey. It appears to have clouded Dannel’s memory also.

posted by: timelord | September 8, 2014  2:24am

I have the best idea yet! A state bureaucrat should be in the delivery room for every child born in CT.  Right after the nurses wipe off the goo the state will take the child and raise it, thus taking the horrible burden off parents.

All of our problems would magically disappear!