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Connecticut Coalition for Child Development Education

May 1, 2007

Governor Jodi Rell
210 Capitol Ave.
Hartford, CT 06106

I am glad that you are trying to make preschool available to more children, but even if we have universal preschool in this state, we will still not be addressing the most crucial period in the development of the child's brain and his emotional and social development. This is the period from birth to three. The way a parent or caregiver acts towards a child during this period and responds to his needs determines his ability to love and trust, his emotional stability, and his readiness for school. Parents need to know what a child's emotional, social, and intellectual needs are and how to respond to them appropriately at various stages of his development from birth to three, or else psychiatrists have found the result can be a child who lacks empathy, is out of control, has psychological problems, or becomes a delinquent or even a criminal.

Most children are not in preschool during these years, and they spend the majority of their time with their parents. But many parents don't know the social, emotional, psychological and intellectual needs of children from birth to three, how to best address them because no one has ever taught them about this. If we want to combat the delinquency, violence, drug abuse, and school behavior problems that plague our society today, we need to teach all parents these things.

Bills have been submitted calling for education in child development and parenting skills as part of the curriculum for six years, but they have died in committee. The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education passed a resolution calling for it. Acting Commissioner George Coleman and former Education commissioner Betty Sternberg favored providing child development education to as many students as possible. In 1997 the State Department of Education in a comprehensive plan for implementing the Early Childhood Agenda in Connecticut said schools should review all curricula "to ensure that a program of responsible parenting is offered in a manner that reaches all students at different periods in their school career. It's ten years later, and still nothing has been done about this.

Some of the topics that should be included in a child development course are child safety;, the emotional needs of infants; techniques for managing preschoolers without hitting; child abuse, including emotional abuse, what it is and the harm it can do to a child; how to help a child understand and manage his emotions well; stages of child development (what a child can do and cannot be expected to do at various ages); and how to teach children respect, responsibility, honesty, motivation, impulse control, etc. Teaching our young people all this can improve the social, emotional and psychological functioning of the next generation, decrease school problems, crime, violence and substance abuse, and improve our society.

Please make this the next part of your Early Childhood Agenda.

Sincerely yours,

The Connecticut Coalition for Child Development Education, formerly the Connecticut Coalition for Parenting Education is comprised of approximately 40 people and organizations dedicated to bringing education in child safety, child development and parenting skills to all Connecticut students sometime before they graduate from high school. Members include Yale psychology professor Edward Zigler, who helped launch Head Start, Yale child psychiatrists Kyle Pruett and James Comer, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, the Mental Health Association of Connecticut; the Connecticut Child Advocate, pediatricians, psychologists, social workers, parents, and other state residents.

Nine years of coalition experience with the legislature and Commissioners of Education indicate the need for a groundswell of public support to bring about action. For more information and to get involved, contact Joan Barbuto, Coordinator of the Coalition, at
joanbstone@aol.com or 203/269-1946.

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