Bob Duff

Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Standing Up For You!

May 2, 2024

Senate Passes Priority Legislation to Enhance Education

The Senate voted Thursday to advance priority legislation intended to increase access to early childhood education by streamlining enrollment in Care4Kids programs, while making technical fixes to programs improving nutrition and air quality in schools.

The chamber passed Senate Bill 5 on a unanimous vote during an afternoon session. The bill contains several provisions designed to improve education outcomes in Connecticut including:

  • Requiring state agencies to share data to ease the Care4Kids early education enrollment process for children who are enrolled in Medicaid.
  • Making technical fixes to a program to enhance school nutrition.
  • Continuing the state‚Äôs commitment to improving the air quality of Connecticut schools.

“Senate Bill 5 will dramatically improve the accessibility of early education programs, making it easier for children on Medicaid to enroll in Care4Kids,” Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said. “Coupled with upgrades to school nutrition and air quality programs, this bill will encourage healthier, more nurturing school environments across the state.”

“By continuing our focus on critical aspects of student well-being like nutrition and air quality, Senate Bill 5 ensures a healthier future for Connecticut’s children,” Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said. “These improvements are vital steps toward enhancing educational outcomes statewide.”

The bill requires a memorandum of understanding between the Department of Social Services and the Office of Early Childhood. This agreement will allow the two agencies to share data on Medicaid-enrolled families who are taking part in Care4Kids, a child care subsidy program for low and moderate income families. Sharing this information will ease the enrollment process by minimizing red tape.

Senate Bill 5 will aid in the implementation of a pilot grant program to enhance the quality of meals served in participating schools by enlisting professional chefs to improve nutritional programs.

The initiative, passed last year as part of Senate Bill 1, funds the chef program at five alliance school districts, where they will train staff, improve meal quality and improve student satisfaction. Senate Bill 5 makes the grant program less restrictive, ensuring that Connecticut schools are able to find chefs able to participate.

Senate Bill 5 also contains provisions aimed at helping schools to comply with required inspections and evaluations of their indoor air quality and HVAC systems. These evaluations can only be conducted by a limited number of specifically trained inspectors.

The legislation requires them to inspect at least 20% of their schools each year on a rotating basis and potentially reduces the number of inspections they must perform each year. It allows districts to seek a one-year waiver from inspection requirements if a qualified inspector can not be hired.

Senate Bill 5 will expend federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to cover any costs associated with its implementation.