Brooklyn Brauner, Contributing Photographer

Early childhood educators, parents and students gathered across from New Haven City Hall at 8 a.m. on Wednesday to advocate for reforms to the early childcare sector and demand appropriate funding towards the profession.  

Rally participants recognized and called for action regarding what they described as the “childcare crisis.” Their actions come as a response to Governor Ned Lamont’s Fiscal Year 2024-2025 Biennial Budget Report released in early February. Lamont allocated $14.2 million in 2024 and $53.3 million in 2025 through the state’s child care subsidy, Care 4 Kids. Advocates at the rally, using the slogan #MorningWithoutChildcare, said this was not enough. 

“Parents pay too much; educators make too little,” Executive Director of the Friends Center for Children and Co-Chair of the Childcare for Connecticut’s Future coalition Allyx Schiavone told the News in an interview. “Providers and programs can barely survive. Businesses cannot thrive, and children are stuck in the middle of that mess.”

One of the lead organizations — alongside other groups such as All Our Kin and the New Haven Early Childhood CouncilChild Care for Connecticut’s Future centers around the hope that everyone can find high quality, affordable care and that childcare providers are well compensated to ensure a stable, skilled workforce.

Schiavone reiterated numerous times during her speech at the rally that early childhood education should not be ignored or trivialized. According to the CDC, some of the most important brain development happens in the first eight years of life.

The immediate consequences of this lack of monetary support results in what speakers referred to as “insufficient” wages for early education providers. According to Schiavone, those currently employed in the public sphere earn approximately $14.76 an hour and domestic employees, including babysitters and in-home care workers, make an average of $8 an hour. 

At the rally, retired and current teachers both commented on the “detrimental cycle” that poor compensation creates. This cycle, they said, causes individuals to leave the profession as a result of the poverty-level wages, which in turn increases the teacher shortages and may worsen burnout for those still employed. 

“The current situation produces an atmosphere that almost resembles ‘every man for himself,’ and I am personally horrified by the amount we are paid,” preschool instructor Ezra Cody told the News. 

Jennifer Frankel, an educator at early learning institution Nest Branford, elaborated on this point, commenting that even with her master’s degree, she could earn a higher salary at a fast food restaurant.

She spoke about how the childcare crisis is playing out in New Haven. Institutions, she noted, are unable to hire and retain quality instructors, as many individuals cannot afford to perform the profession they value. Beyond the teachers, the availability of early education declines while family finances suffer from the rising costs and the marginalization of childcare workers. 

“There’s such a gap for children who don’t receive a quality childhood foundation,” Frankel said.  

Frankel said the Nest Branford lacks the spare funds necessary to provide scholarships to those in need of financial assistance. With a lack of the resources at the Nest Branford — as well as at numerous other facilities — these educational opportunities remain inaccessible to many families. 

“It is hard because childcare is taking a majority of our salaries and we are now unable to fulfill other ends for our children,” Patrice Rutty, an infant educator at Alphabet Academy-North Campus in New Haven, told the News.

In light of these widespread implications, the advocates called for significant investment, transformation and expansion. Among the implicit benefits of resolving the childcare crisis, leaders of the rally also emphasized the fact that investing in childcare produces better tax incentives, improves emotional regulation of the community, better neutralizes income inequality and promotes the state’s fiscal bottom line. 

The early childcare rally on the New Haven Green was one of eight around the state of Connecticut on International Women’s Day, including ones in Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, Mansfield, Groton, Stamford and Waterbury. 

Brooklyn Brauner serves as a staff reporter for the City desk, covering Nonprofits and Social Services throughout New Haven, in addition to serving as the Thursday Newsletter Editor. Originally from Wisconsin, she is currently a sophomore in Grace Hopper College studying Political Science.