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What Do You Really Believe?
One of the most important aspects of tough times is that they force us to fully confront what we truly believe in; us as a local, statewide, and national community, and each and every one of us as individuals. In easy times we have the luxury of thinking about and expressing our beliefs as window dressing platitudes, but in hard times we’re forced to “walk the walk” of making hard choices that define our most deeply held values.
Unless you just arrived here from another planet, you’re well aware that Connecticut’s State budget, the source for over half of Child & Family Agency’s funding, continues to face yet another giant deficit, currently estimated at something like $1.6 billion. This year’s edition of cuts being considered by the State Legislature, currently in session as I write, threatens some of the smartest prevention and early intervention public tax dollars that could ever be spent, including child care subsidies and School-Based Health Centers. Quality child care, unaffordable for lower income families, gets kids ready for success in school and in life, and prevents nearly every individual and community-level social ill we care about while saving giant piles of money, both immediately and in the long run. Similarly, School-Based Health Centers catch both medical and mental health issues early and, because of their barrier-free advantage (we’re in schools, where the kids are), produce great outcomes, keeping students healthier and keeping them in school. How heartbreakingly ironic for us, as a Connecticut community, to be dismantling programs that we have proven are effective. It’s shameful and just plain dumb.
I’m frequently made aware of new funding opportunities for the trial implementation of innovative program models. While we indeed need to figure out how to differently, more sustainably fund both prevention and intervention programs that make up Connecticut’s social service safety net, there’s plenty of historical evidence of the dangers of chasing the latest shiny object while ignoring the tried-and-true foundation. I’m reminded of my college Sociology professor’s observation of human beings’ attraction to “new-ism and do-ism”. “New” has great “curb appeal”, especially when combined with the sense of urgency, often by the most well-intentioned, that says, “My goodness, we’ve got to DO something!” We have to be smarter than that, especially given the current fiscal crisis we’re in.
So this is one of those moments to ask yourself, “What do I really believe?” If you believe that our communities are part of a world that, as a variety of sources are credited with saying, we are borrowing from our children, and so are obligated to build up rather than break down, then you can make the choice to make a difference. You can do this – today – by calling or emailing your State representatives, urging them to adequately fund the Care 4 Kids child care subsidies, thereby opening the door to an estimated 5,000 children who will otherwise go without by summertime; and to fully restore the proposed cuts to Connecticut’s School-Based Health Center funding. Click on this link (or paste into your internet browser) to find your legislators and send these messages:
Please also send your message to the co-chairs of the Appropriations Committee, as well as to the co-chairs and membership of Appropriations’ Human Services and Health Sub-committees, all of whom can be found at this link: https://www.cga.ct.gov/app/.
You’ll feel really good about it in the morning.