News Release: For Immediate Release
Date: February 15, 2007
Contact: Miko Tachibana, Director of Development and Communications
Office: (203) 549-0075 Ext 14
Fax: (203) 549-0203
Critical Children’s Issues Top Coalition’s Legislative Agenda
Advocacy group highlights education, health care, and after-school programs
BRIDGEPORT, CT—With the start of each Legislative session there is always talk about what the “big” issues will be. This year, the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (BCAC) declares those issues facing children and families as most important in the 2007 edition of its annual Children’s Legislative Agenda.
“Often we forget to give voice to those issues facing children,” declared Marta Calderon, Bridgeport parent-leader and co-chair of BCAC’s Public Policy Task Force. “But by improving the life of a child we protect the future of Connecticut, not just for a handful but for all residents.”
While BCAC lists nine areas in need of legislative support, it highlights three as the most critical for this legislative session: state education funding, health care, and after-school programs.
During the current school year Bridgeport schools made $11 million in cuts and BCAC cites the outdated state education aid formula as short changing Bridgeport schools by more than $20 million a year.
“BCAC supports changes to how state education funding is distributed,” said Hernan Illingworth PAC president of Classical Studies Academy and co-chair of BCAC’s Education Task Force. “In Bridgeport more than 95% of public school students are economically disadvantaged, and the current formula for distribution of state education aid doesn’t take that into account.”
In addition to the need for increased education funding, BCAC points out the great need state-wide to provide health care for the uninsured. There are more than 400,000 Connecticut residents, including 70,000 children, who are uninsured.
After-school programs, also a highlighted issue, have long offered many benefits to Connecticut children including improved school attendance and academic performance. Despite the benefits to youth, many after-school programs have reported a loss in funding over the past two years.
BCAC advocates for the increase of state funding to help support such programs across Connecticut, and to restore programs for the 500 Bridgeport children who can no longer attend after-schools programs due to budget cuts.
Additionally, BCAC supports a number of initiatives that will help children and strengthen families. Among these are:
- Passing a state Earned Income Tax Credit to help thousands of Connecticut families
- Expanding the availability of mental health services for young children
- Funding increases for the state Rental Assistance Program to serve 2,600 families
- Preschool expansion for all Bridgeport children
“The Issues topping BCAC’s Children’s Legislative Agenda are not issues that only affect Bridgeport,” says Jack Hickey-Williams, community leader and co-chair of BCAC’s Public Policy Task Force. “These are issues that affect all children living in Connecticut.”
For more information or to receive a copy of BCAC’s 2007 Legislative Agenda, please contact the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition at (203)549-0075.
The Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (BCAC) is a coalition of 84 local agencies, churches, synagogues, and community organizations committed to improving the well-being of local children. For over 20 years, BCAC has combined research, advocacy, community education and mobilization to ensure health, safety, and education for all of Bridgeport’s children.