Chronic Absenteeism Impacting Educational Attainment
Recently, the Washington Post reported on an analysis by Johns Hopkins University and Attendance Works, which shows that at least 10.1 million students were chronically absent in the 2020-21 school year. The story also calls out Connecticut as one of four states that has posted attendance figures for 2021-22 showing that chronic absenteeism has actually worsened. Based on these data sets, researchers anticipate that the number of chronically absent students (those missing at least 18 days of school) will increase to 16 million nationwide in 2021-22. The Hechinger Report adds that, if these estimates are correct, it will mean that a third of public school children were chronically absent after classrooms re-opened.
To Connecticut’s credit, state data on attendance and chronic absenteeism have been meticulously tracked and disaggregated. View them here.
Connecticut Tackles Economic Challenges
Last week, the CT Mirror’s Ginny Monk covered the results of the yearly "point-in-time" survey, which documents the number of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. Bad news for Connecticut: the count showed a 13% jump over last year, following several years of decline. The article links the rise in single-night homelessness to economic fallout from the pandemic, rising inflation costs, and a lack of housing. In fact, according to the story, Connecticut lacks about 85,400 units of affordable rentals and has the lowest rental vacancy rate in the nation.
While affordable housing remains a stubbornly persistent issue in the state, Connecticut is also pursuing solutions to food insecurity. The Department of Social Services (DSS) recently announced that Connecticut has expanded eligibility to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which currently serves 222,600 households, including 138,800 children. By setting new income limits, the DSS says it will reach an additional 17,600 households. Moreover, as reported by CT News Junkie, families enrolled in SNAP become automatically eligible for Head Start and other forms of government support.
In higher education, the CT Mirror also has a story this week about a third of college students nationwide facing food insecurity.
Wage Supports for Early Childhood Educators
On Thursday, Governor Lamont announced the release of $70M in state funding to cover one-time bonuses for early child care staff, part of the state budget signed into law this year. Administered by the Office of Early Childhood, the initiative known as Wage Supports for Early Childhood Educators allots $1,000 bonuses to full-time workers and $400 bonuses to part-time. According to NBC CT, childcare operators will need to apply for the funds and then disburse them to their staff. Reporting by Connecticut Public Radio, however, says that beyond one-time bonuses, more is needed to boost pay over the long term.