Update - December 6

December 7, 2023

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Dear Neighbor,

We have less than a month to go before we welcome 2024 and the new legislative session starts February 7. Hello, December!

Child Care Survey Shows Financial Difficulties & Staffing Shortages
The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, a statewide organization committed to improving outcomes in the areas of learning, health, safety, and economic security, for children ages birth to eight, has released the results of a recently conducted survey of 200 childcare providers across Connecticut. 

We have a chronic problem - funding and staffing issues. 

The survey found that roughly one-quarter of respondents are not generating enough income to keep their businesses sustainable and across the childcare system, there are 4,000 openings available. 

The state is aware and has convened a Blue-Ribbon Task Force to draft a five-year plan to help the early childhood sector. They are expected to submit their final report this month. The final plan is expected to call for increases in state funding for providers and broader subsidy eligibility for families. 

I am watching the situation and awaiting the final report. However, childcare is vital for parents to work and providers need to be able to earn a living wage. 

To read the full story in CT NewsJunkie, click HERE.

To help alleviate the staffing issues, Governor Lamont, Labor Commissioner Danté Bartolomeo, Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) Commissioner Beth Bye, and CSEA SEIU Local 2001 President Travis Woodward gathered in Hartford on Monday to announce the formation of a new Registered Apprenticeship Program to encourage jobseekers to enter careers in home-based childcare and fill high-demand jobs in this field.

This program – a coordinated partnership between OEC, CTDOL, and SEIU – is the first of its kind in Connecticut. It was created with the goals of partnering with families and communities to create culturally and linguistically appropriate care for their children, improving the quality of early care and education by offering coursework in child development and valuing the important work that childcare providers perform within their communities.

Registered apprentices earn while they learn. The program is a federally backed workforce training program that requires a minimum of 2,000 hours working on the job and hundreds of hours of classroom learning. Upon completion of the Family Childcare Registered Apprenticeship Program, family childcare providers will have the Child Development Associate and National Association for Family Childcare credentials. These credentials raise the wages for providers, improve future earning power, and lift the quality of home-based early childhood education programs.

OEC is also piloting workforce approaches that will lead to registered apprenticeships for childcare centers.

Eversource Rates & Billing Info
LGBTQ+ Virtual Office Hours
My colleagues who make up the LGBTQ+ Caucus will be holding statewide virtual office hours on December 12, from 10 a.m.to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

To sign up for a time slot, click HERE

ArrayRx Prescription Drug Discount Card
More than 12,000 Connecticut residents have signed up for the state’s prescription drug discount program called ArrayRx. Registration started about two months ago after my colleagues and I voted this program into law.

Those who sign up, including those on Medicare, will receive a free Rx card with savings of up to 80% on generics. All FDA-approved prescriptions are included. This program is a tool to deal with the dramatic rise in the cost of prescription drugs.

The Office of the State Comptroller released its full ArrayRx enrollment list by town. Click HERE to see how many people in Torrington have signed up. 

Learn More About ArrayRx
Take a Second Look at SNAP Benefits
In October 2022, Governor Lamont increased the income eligibility limits for Connecticut’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As a result, nearly 10,000 individuals in 4,980 households have benefited from the program.

Under the revised eligibility benefit levels, Connecticut residents qualify for SNAP if their monthly gross income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
This small change has had a tremendous impact throughout the state. I am thrilled that we were able to provide more resources and assistance to those who need it. 

As a reminder, SNAP enrollees are also automatically eligible for other federally funded services, such as the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program, Head Start, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program!
I encourage you to take a second look at whether you can benefit from SNAP under these new revisions. Click HERE to learn more.

Winter Pet Safety
  • (Above) Important any time of year, but the holiday season seems to be a good time for a reminder of what our furry friends can and can't eat or what houseplants are safe around them. Let's keep our animals safe!
  • (Below) If you're caring for an outdoor cat during the cold months, the best bedding is straw. Why? Because items like towels, blankets, or beds can absorb moisture from the air and freeze. Cats can fall asleep on the materials, and they can freeze to death. 
iPhone Software Update - Info You Can Use 
Police departments across Connecticut are warning people about a new feature called NameDrop on the latest Apple update. NameDrop allows users, including your children, to share contacts between Apple devices by bringing them close to each other.

Both the devices involved must have the BlueTooth and NameDrop features turned on. After that, the NameDrop technology will allow you to share the contact by tapping the two phones.

Even though NameDrop is auto enabled when you update to iOS 17, it’s crucial to note that consent is required throughout the process. A stranger can’t bump into you for a few seconds, and then walk away with your phone number.

Learn more from Forbes: Is Apple’s New ‘NameDrop’ Contact Sharing Feature Safe? Experts Say Yes—Despite Warnings From Police

Scam Warning 
Heads up! These scam calls, typically targeting seniors, seem to be popping up again. Help me spread the word with these reminders:
  • If you have to pay money to get money - it is a scam!
  • If it is too good to be true - reach out to a trusted source before acting. 
  • You always have time to verify - do not let them take that away from you. 
  • If they insist that you need to pay now, end the conversation. It is ok to hang up.
You're Feeling Sick: What Do You Have?

Michelle Cook

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