Ceci Maher

State Senator

Ceci Maher

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together For Our Communities

May 3, 2024

Senate Passes Priority Legislation to Enhance Education

State Senator Ceci Maher (D-Wilton) joined the Senate’s vote 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.

“As the Senate Chair of the Committee on Children, I know early access to education and learning opportunities play a vital role in brain development,” said Sen. Maher. “I’m proud to join this vote in support of expanding that access, in addition to improving children’s nutrition which is important for growth, as well as supporting healthy air in schools. I look forward to this bill becoming law.”

The chamber passed Senate Bill 5 on a unanimous vote. 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’s commitment to improving the air quality of Connecticut schools.

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.

Contact: Joe O’Leary | 508-479-4969 | Joe.OLeary@cga.ct.gov