Connecticut Voices for Children
33 Whitney Avenue
New Haven CT 06510
Contact Information
Address 33 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06510-
Telephone (203) 498-4240 x
Fax 203-498-4242
E-mail voices@ctvoices.org
Web and Social Media
Mission

Connecticut Voices for Children works to ensure that all of the children in our state have a meaningful opportunity to develop to their full potential, regardless of race, family income or life circumstance. We advance this mission by advocating for wise public policies and strategic public investments. Working across issue areas, from early childhood development to state fiscal policy, we advocate for system-level changes that boost family economic success, nurture child health and development, advance equity in educational opportunity and prepare children for success.

Today Connecticut Voices for Children holds a unique place among nonprofits in the state. While other nonprofits conduct research on particular issues of concern, offer programs to address identified areas of need, and in some cases even advocate for change in particular budget priorities, only Connecticut Voices for Children offers a holistic approach to its broad mission to advance equity in opportunity for all children and families- so that all children have a meaningful chance to succeed. We strive to understand the large scale trends impacting children and families in Connecticut; share that information with decision-makers and stakeholders, and, ultimately, change policy and statewide investment strategies to create more equitable opportunity. Grounding our work in an analysis of economic, demographic and political trends, and in social science research on best practice policies and programs, we advocate for strategic investments in people, places, services and infrastructure to advance a more inclusive and more prosperous future.

At A Glance
Year of Incorporation 1995
Organization's type of tax exempt status Public Charity Type I Supporting Organization
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Attorney Ellen Shemitz J.D.
Board Chair Jean Adnopoz
Board Chair Company Affiliation Yale University Child Study Center
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expenses Bar Graph - All Years
Statements
Mission

Connecticut Voices for Children works to ensure that all of the children in our state have a meaningful opportunity to develop to their full potential, regardless of race, family income or life circumstance. We advance this mission by advocating for wise public policies and strategic public investments. Working across issue areas, from early childhood development to state fiscal policy, we advocate for system-level changes that boost family economic success, nurture child health and development, advance equity in educational opportunity and prepare children for success.

Today Connecticut Voices for Children holds a unique place among nonprofits in the state. While other nonprofits conduct research on particular issues of concern, offer programs to address identified areas of need, and in some cases even advocate for change in particular budget priorities, only Connecticut Voices for Children offers a holistic approach to its broad mission to advance equity in opportunity for all children and families- so that all children have a meaningful chance to succeed. We strive to understand the large scale trends impacting children and families in Connecticut; share that information with decision-makers and stakeholders, and, ultimately, change policy and statewide investment strategies to create more equitable opportunity. Grounding our work in an analysis of economic, demographic and political trends, and in social science research on best practice policies and programs, we advocate for strategic investments in people, places, services and infrastructure to advance a more inclusive and more prosperous future.

Background

Every child should be cherished. That simple idea drove four mothers to found Connecticut Voices for Children more than twenty years ago. The legacy of those four women is a highly respected child research and advocacy organization led by a diverse staff with experience in education, law, child development, health, youth development, and the state budget. Together we work to advance four broad outcomes: thriving families, educational opportunity, youth opportunity and value-driven state fiscal policy.

 
Connecticut today is a state of contradictions. Although we rank first in the nation for per capita income, 15% of our children live in poverty. Although our state constitution prohibits segregation and discrimination we have a long history of de-facto racial residential segregation and dramatic racial/ethnic inequalities in income and educational outcomes. 33% of our Latino children and 28% of our black children live in poverty, compared to 6% of white children. A quarter of our black population and nearly a third of our Latino population live in the 1% of our state that is at least 50% non-white and has poverty at three times the state average. Children living in poverty experience environmental and family stressors that decrease the likelihood of their success in school, in the workplace, and in life. These challenges are exacerbated by public policies that deny them needed services and limit their access to well-resourced schools, even as their parents pay a greater share of their income in state and local taxes than wealthier families pay. Our challenge is to advance systems level changes so that children’s life experiences no longer depend more on where they live than on how hard they work. That means offering high quality education in every community, protecting vulnerable children and youth, and reforming our revenue system.
Impact

Our key accomplishments last year and our primary goals this year seek to protect the needs of our most vulnerable children and families- advocating for the protection of critical programs and the adoption of a balanced budget.

Thriving Families: A decade of advocacy led to a state earned income tax credit that now benefits more than 192,000 working families each year. Steadfast defense of the HUSKY health insurance program has protected the state’s largest and most important maternal and child health program from severe budget cuts. This year both programs are at risk; our advocacy brings forward solid research about the benefits and high return on these strategic investments.

Educational Success: Tireless advocacy based on our early childhood research helped catalyze new funding for early education programs for thousands of young children – funding now at risk as evidenced by closure of Care4Kids to most new families. Our education advocacy focuses on equity: both in terms of access to early care and in terms of K-12 education where the reality of long-term residential segregation challenges the moral and economic standing of our state.

Youth Opportunity: Over the past several years, our research on school disciplinary practices has revealed great disparity in the treatment of children of color, building momentum to end the “school to prison” pipeline. Continued work seeks to divert youth from the juvenile justice system, promoting alternatives to exclusionary discipline.

Strategic Investment: Our highly regarded analyses of fiscal policy have led to policy changes that increase transparency and accountability, and empowered organizations and individuals from around the state to understand and participate in the budget process. Coalition building and leadership have averted major cuts to services for families in past recessions and advanced tax equity.

Needs

The demand for our work and expertise is higher now than ever before. The state budget crisis means that colleagues, policymakers, foundations and elected leaders turn to us to map out the scope of the challenge and the likely consequences of different paths forward. Concern has only risen in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, as the threat of changes to core federal programs threatens long-stable revenue streams for the state. We are heartened that the immediate threats to the Affordable Care Act have abated in the wake of Congress’s failed attempt to “repeal and replace” it. However, threats to health coverage and other supports for low-income working families are likely to continue via federal administrative action, other Congressional initiatives, and the state budget squeeze. Our biggest challenge then is capacity. We work to meet the expectations of partners and funders in terms of essential analysis and advocacy while also being nimble enough to address emerging issues and needs. Given the realities of finite work capacity, we endeavor to choose our priorities carefully to advance the well-being and development of Connecticut’s children. Nonetheless, balancing our pledged work with new and emerging issues remains an ongoing challenge.

CEO Statement

Connecticut Voices for Children has embraced a sweeping vision for our state: that all Connecticut children will have the opportunity to achieve their full potential, regardless of race, income or zip code.

What would it mean if all children in Connecticut were able to realize their full potential? It would mean that all youth would graduate from high school ready for success in college or career. It would mean that employers could count on a well-trained workforce. It would mean a dramatic reduction in today’s achievement gap, a sharp decrease in child poverty, an increase in median wages, and a healthier economy fueled by a growing middle class with increased demand for products and services. By making a commitment to equitable opportunity for all children, our state could advance our overall economic standing at the same time as it advanced quality of life and child and family well-being.

Change does not happen overnight. The growing inequality in opportunity in our state has taken generations to create, and will take at least a generation to fix. But Connecticut Voices for Children is leading the way in our state in forging a research based, child and family centered path toward equal opportunity.

This is not the first time Connecticut Voices for Children has broken new ground in its research and advocacy. I first learned about the pioneering work of Connecticut Voices for Children sixteen years ago while serving as executive director of the Children’s Alliance of New Hampshire- a sister organization of Connecticut Voices with a similar vision and mission. Under the leadership of founding executive director Shelley Geballe, Connecticut Voices was leading the national child advocacy community in integrating social policy expertise with tax and budget analysis to make the case for increased investments in children and families as integral to strategic economic planning and development. Over the years, I held up the work of Connecticut Voices as the “gold standard” in child advocacy, urging my board to follow its lead in the development of fiscal analytical capacity and in the commitment to building the next generation of child advocates.

Today, as the only research-based, statewide, multi-issue child advocacy organization in Connecticut, we play a unique role in explaining how issues, such as poverty, crime, underachievement, unemployment, and family dynamics not only impact healthy child development but also limit the potential of the entire state. At a time of declining social capital and community engagement, we seek to explain the reality of our social and economic interdependence, providing the data, research and public will building necessary for a better tomorrow.

Board Chair Statement

I have had the pleasure and privilege to serve as a board member of Connecticut Voices for Children since its infancy in 1999 and as Chair of the Board since 2012. From its inception, Connecticut Voices has been committed to being an independent voice for the children of Connecticut. Conceptualized as a non-partisan think tank, Voices has always relied upon a sound, data informed approach to its advocacy positions. For more than twenty years Connecticut Voices has developed thoughtful, concise data driven position papers and analyses for legislators, community leaders, and concerned citizens which have influenced decision making on many of the legislative issues which affect the lives of Connecticut’s children and families.

From the first legislative campaign on behalf of subsidized guardianships for grandparents and other relatives caring for children whose parents were unable to provide appropriate care to current campaigns focused on the revenue side of the budget, income equality and its effect on public education, Connecticut Voices has been the leading child advocacy organization in the state. Current issues which Connecticut Voices has championed include the plight of children aging out of foster care, equitable access to preschool and early childhood education, and the need for strong schools which can prepare children for college as well as for the vocations which will assure them financial viability and create a pool of employment-ready individuals in the state. Our approach is outcome based, with measurable goals in key issue areas. We are not afraid to evaluate our effectiveness.

I am proud of these and other issues which Connecticut Voices has consistently raised. I am proud of its unabashed willingness to speak for the needs and interests of all of Connecticut’s children, and promote positions which stimulate discussion and generate passionate response. I am proud of Connecticut Voices’ leadership and the wonderful work being done by its staff, from its Director, Ellen Shemitz, JD, to its accomplished professionals and its very capable policy fellows.

Although its work focuses on Connecticut and its children, the work of Connecticut Voices is nationally recognized. Connecticut Voices serves as a model for advocates in many states which lag behind us in providing opportunities and services for their children. In the current political environment in which many of the values cherished by organizations such as Connecticut Voices are being threatened by government deconstruction and loss of funding, all voices count. Connecticut Voices Is uniquely positioned to speak not only with passion but also with the strength of careful analysis to fully justify and support its policy goals. We all stand to gain from these efforts.

Service Categories
Primary Organization Category Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy / Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis
Secondary Organization Category Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy / Alliances & Advocacy
Areas Served
State wide
Ansonia
Bethany
Branford
Cheshire
Derby
East Haven
Guilford
Hamden
Lower Naugatuck Valley
Madison
Milford
New Haven
North Branford
North Haven
Orange
Oxford
Seymour
Shelton
Shoreline
Wallingford
West Haven
Woodbridge

As a statewide organization, we work on systems change to benefit all of the 1,048,006 children and youth ages 0 to 24 across Connecticut, including 247,576 in the Greater New Haven region, with the greatest impact felt by those whose opportunities are limited by virtue of family income, race, ethnicity, or zip code.  Using family income as a proxy for limited opportunity, our work in the Greater New Haven region most directly supports 85,384 children and youth living below 200% of the FPL.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

In defining low-income, we have used 200% of the federal poverty line, based on the recognition that the federal poverty level ($23,850 for a family of four in 2014) itself dramatically undercounts families in need. Even this definition may not fully capture the growing costs of a family’s most basic needs. The Connecticut Self-Sufficiency Standard estimated the income required for a family of four (two adults, one preschooler, and one school age child) to be self-sufficient in 2015 as $78,467 (Connecticut’s Self-Sufficiency Standard).

Data on family income is not, of course, the only characteristic of our target population. Opportunity for children and youth is shaped within the context of multiple community, peer, and educational influences. These influences vary greatly across Connecticut and within the greater New Haven region, resulting in vast disparities in opportunity.

Across our communities, families are not able to access early childhood care and education, including infant and toddler care equally. This exacerbates employment and income disparities when working parents are forced to forgo employment in order to watch their children. We know that there are low-income families living in even the wealthiest cities and towns: indeed, families in every single one of the towns in the greater New Haven region qualified for the Care4Kids subsidy in 2016. Our recent publication about the closure of the Care4Kids child care subsidy to new families showed that in 40% of New Haven area towns (8), Care4Kids is the only form of state-subsidized early care and education. Because of the budget deficit and the closure of the program to new families, low-income families in these towns applying for subsidies today have nowhere to turn for state support of quality, affordable care for their young children. Moreover, access to quality early childhood education for preschoolers differs dramatically within the greater New Haven region. For example, in Woodbridge, where just 3% of children under 5 live in poverty, more than 82% of children attended preschool before entering kindergarten in 2014. In contrast, in West Haven, where 20% of children under 5 live in poverty, only 58% of children attended preschool for even a single day that year. Within the K-12 schools, educational disparities that result from unequal access to early childhood education are exacerbated by widely disparate school funding. For instance, per-pupil funding in the Woodbridge public elementary schools for the 2015-16 school year was $16,488, as compared with only $13,592 in West Haven. Not surprisingly, the four year graduation rate in Woodbridge was over 96% for 2014-15 (the most recent year for which that data is available) in contrast with 78 % in West Haven.

We see the same disparities in our work on youth development and youth unemployment. The rate of youth who drop out of school and do not find employment—disconnected youth—is highly correlated to suspension rates. Communities where schools use more exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions, are also more likely to have higher rates of youth that disconnect from school and employment. Suspension rates are also a unique predictor of juvenile arrests. Even when adjusting for other factors that influence involvement with the justice system, such as poverty and residential segregation, suspension rates have a strong and positive correlation with rates of juvenile arrests. These findings in Connecticut are consistent with national studies showing that youth are more likely to be arrested on days they are suspended from school, often as a result of “zero tolerance” or “three strikes and you’re out” policies. Connecting this research with local data, we find that where a youth grows up in the greater New Haven region has a significant impact on his or her likelihood of success. Compare for example the 2014-15 school-year suspension rate of 0.4% Woodbridge with that in West Haven of 6.9%. These disparities in opportunity present an enormous challenge not just for the most affected children and families, but for the state as a whole: Data Haven predicts that 70 percent of jobs in the state will require a post-secondary degree by 2020. We must invest in all children if we as a state and as a community are going to be able to provide the prepared workforce necessary to support a prosperous and inclusive economy.

Note: We have cited demographic information from Data Haven’s Greater New Haven Community Index and the 2014 American Community Survey. While we have detailed 2015 ACS town level data, we opted to use 2014 data to allow comparability with some of the community data points collected by Data Haven.
Programs
Description
We know that children do well when families do well. Conversely, children living in poverty experience environmental and family stressors that decrease the likelihood of their success in school, in the workplace, and in life. Connecticut Voices for Children seeks to promote public policies and investments that support thriving families. Each year we publish the State of Working Connecticut, which reports on the economic trends affecting our state’s families and proposes solutions to help families thrive. Our advocacy focuses on public policies proven to help lift families out of poverty, including the state earned income tax credit and child care subsidies. We also work toward more equitable access to health care and, in particular, health care insurance. Our steadfast defense of the HUSKY health insurance program has protected the state’s most important maternal and child health program from severe budget cuts.
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) / At-Risk Populations / Families
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.
  • Monitor and promote health insurance coverage, particularly publicly financed programs.
  • Ensure that policymakers and other stakeholders are knowledgeable about and ready to respond to changes on the federal level to the Affordable Care Act.
  • Analyze poverty, labor force, and wage trends by race, ethnicity, and place.
  • Articulate the importance of access to high-quality child care in removing barriers to education and work for low-income parents.
  • Articulate the importance of meeting the needs of low-income, marginalized communities in discussions about economic development.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
  • Protection of the HUSKY program from harmful cuts that limit access to services.
  • Increase in the percentage of children and families with health insurance coverage.
  • Increase in access to oral health for low-income children, parents, and pregnant women.
  • Increase in percentage of eligible children in the HUSKY program that maintain enrollment for 12 continuous months.
  • Reduction in racial and ethnic disparities in health coverage and access.
  • Increase in investments in a quality children’s behavioral health system.
  • Increase in utilization of preventive care and reduction in emergency room utilization for conditions that could be treated on an outpatient basis.
  • Increase in access to mental health services for children and families.
  • Increase in access to child care subsidies.
  • Increase in employment opportunities, wages, access to affordable housing, and economic mobility for low income families.
  • Reduction in racial and ethnic disparities in terms of unemployment, income, and wealth.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
  • Increase in number of children with continuous, uninterrupted health coverage.
  • Increase in the number of families covered by Care4Kids child care subsidies.
  • Reduction in number of uninsured children and families.
  • Participation in (1) Covering Kids and Families meetings, (2) Early Childhood Alliance meetings, and (3) meetings of the Commission on Economic Competitiveness.
  • Administrative and policy changes that improve access to health coverage and services, increase access to child care subsidies, and make work pay.
  • Invitations to speak at events, lead working groups, and co-sponsor activities, analyze data, and evaluate programs related to thriving families, including child care, health coverage, and family level fiscal stability.
  • Press coverage of annual economic analysis.
  • Shift in state conversation from economic development incentives measured by numbers of jobs to inclusive economic development measured by shift toward higher wage jobs and reduction in racial income disparities.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.

Thousands more children have access to the health care they need as a result of our research and advocacy. Connecticut Voices’ analysis of HUSKY enrollment data found that babies turning one and teens turning 18 were more likely than children of other ages to lose coverage over the course of a year. As a direct result of our work and recommendations, the state made changes to its procedures. Follow-up research has found that thousands more children are retaining their health coverage after these changes were implemented.

More than 190,000 Connecticut low-income households now receive a strong boost from Connecticut’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – a program which Connecticut Voices advocated for since its inception. This credit for working families is a vital support that helps low-wage parents make ends meet and stay out of poverty.
Description

Connecticut Voices promotes public policies and investments that support an integrated state-wide system of high-quality early care and education and high quality public education for all students, preparing them for success in higher education, career and life.

Our early education work is focused on ensuring all young children have access to high-quality caregiving environments that are developmentally appropriate, culturally sensitive, and that recognize parents as children’s first and most important teachers.

Our K-12 education work raises awareness of the income and racial/ethnic opportunity gaps affecting children and youth throughout the state. We work to promote both short and long term policies that will address these issues to help ensure that all Connecticut children graduate high school ready for college and career.

Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) / At-Risk Populations / Families
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.
  • Build broader understanding of and support for quality early care and education through timely, accessible research and analysis.
  • Assess impact of state and federal budget on early childhood programs.
  • Promote policies to expand access to high-quality early childhood programs.
  • Advocate for a more equitable statewide school finance system through a fair, comprehensive funding formula.
  • Promote policies and legislation that keep children in school, including legislation that reduces the unnecessary use of student arrests.
  • Provide research and data tools to help advocates better explain issues of residential segregation, differential funding, and other sources of the opportunity gap.
  • Promote effective education reform that recognizes the importance of parental support, child health, economic equity, and community supports.
  • Promote collaboration between the business and educational community so that all youth can graduate high school, college and career ready.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
  • Increase in access to high-quality early care and public education.
  • Creation and maintenance of an equitable education funding system that provides and effectively manages the resources needed to ensure that all students receive suitable educational opportunities.
  • Positive changes in administrative policy and procedures (e.g. more systematic coherent collection and analysis of K-12 data; data-driven reform of the ECS formula).
  • Decrease in educational equity gaps between racial and socioeconomic groups.
  • Decrease in economic and racial/ethnic segregation.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
  • Greater percentage of children participating in high-quality early care and education programs.
  • Improved coordination, integration and planning in state’s early education system.
  • Increased share of K-12 education funded by state dollars.
  • Increased school diversity.
  • Reduced student suspensions, expulsions, and arrests.
  • Lower percentage of low-income children attending low performing schools.
  • Increased number of communities adopting a holistic view of educational success
  • Increased readiness of students graduating high school ready for college and career.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.

Connecticut has begun the process of transforming its early care and education system to become more streamlined, integrated, and accessible to families. The state’s early care and education system has long suffered from a lack of coordination and planning. Child care providers have struggled to manage multiple funding streams, regulations, and assessment measures. Parents have struggled to understand and navigate a confusing and often overlapping array of programs and eligibility requirements. Through our research and advocacy work, we have drawn attention to the need for a more unified and integrated approach to educating our youngest children. Policymakers established an Office of Early Childhood, charged with coordinating the state’s early care programs and improving access for children and parents. Within the K-12 system, our work has shed light on the correlation between school funding, relative educational opportunity and actual student achievement.

Description

Working across issue areas, Connecticut Voices seeks to improve and broaden opportunities for all youth. Our child welfare work is focused on supporting investments in families and communities to prevent neglect and abuse, and working to improve services and outcomes for children placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. Our juvenile justice work seeks to reduce the number of children and youth involved in the juvenile justice system, to improve outcomes for children and youth who are court involved, and to reduce inequities in the juvenile justice system attributable to poverty and race.

Population Served At-Risk Populations / Families / Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.
  • Enhanced educational and vocational supports for children in foster care.
  • Reduction in out-of-school suspension and arrest rates; promotion of positive alternatives to out-of-school suspensions and arrests.
  • Reinvestment of savings from decreased incarceration to improve the quality of community-based services and supports.
  • Structural improvements to the juvenile justice system, including increased data capacity.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
  • Improvement in the employment, educational, housing, health, and social outcomes of youth aging out of the foster care system.
  • Reduction in the number of children residing in out-of-home care, and increase in the number of at-risk children whose needs are met in family settings.
  • Decrease in inappropriate engagement with the juvenile justice system.
  • Reduction in racial, ethnic, or income based inequities in the juvenile justice system.
  • Improvement in outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system, through services like behavior/mental health services, family and peer interventions, and greater educational and vocational opportunities.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
  • State and local funding reforms and policies that improve opportunities for children and reduce inequities.
  • Decreased reliance on institutional care for kids in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
  • Increased funding for issues affecting education for children and youth including expanding juvenile jurisdiction to young adults and supports for youth transitioning out of the foster care system.
  • Improved employment, educational, and social outcomes for children and youth touched by the child welfare system.
  • Decreased involvement of youth with the juvenile justice system.
  • Reduced racial and income inequities in youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
  • Improve outcomes for youth in, and leaving, the juvenile justice system.
  • Reduction in student arrest, expulsion and school suspension rates.
  • Reduction in number of children involved in the child welfare, behavioral health, and juvenile justice systems who become homeless by the age of 21.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.

Only six years ago, in 2011-12, students were suspended or expelled from public schools in the state 120,000 times, but by 2015-16 that number had fallen to 92,000. Our work raising awareness of these numbers and highlighting the racial and economic disparities within these trends led to legislation tempering the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, defining school-based arrests, and limiting the use of these methods for the youngest children. Through our advocacy for state-funded programs that seek to decrease exclusionary discipline, student arrests, and juvenile justice system involvement, successful programs have been able to make significant reductions in the use of exclusionary discipline and juvenile justice involvement in our state. As it stands now, schools are relying on exclusionary discipline less and students are less frequently being pushed out of class, missing class time or being swept into the juvenile justice system.

Description

Connecticut Voices for Children promotes fiscal policy that supports adequate investment in child and family opportunity by advancing equity, transparency and accountability in the state’s budget process. Our annual State Budget Forum and our highly regarded analyses of fiscal policy have led to policy changes that increase transparency and accountability and empowered organizations and individuals from around the state to understand and participate in the budget process. Coalition building and leadership have averted major cuts to services for families in past recessions and advanced tax equity, including increased tax progressivity, closing of corporate tax loopholes, and repeal of unfair tax exemptions.

Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) / At-Risk Populations / Families
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.
  • Prevention of harmful cuts to the “Children’s Budget” -- programs that support children’s education, health, and wellbeing.
  • Adoption of new revenue sources to avoid a cuts-only approach to the state budget.
  • Protection of Connecticut’s state Earned Income Tax Credit at its current amount – 27.5% of the federal credit.
  • Passage of legislation requiring regular review of business tax breaks so that all spending is scrutinized equally.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
  • Restoration of Connecticut’s state Earned Income Tax Credit to its original amount – 30% of the federal credit – to extend economic stability to hundreds of thousands of workers.
  • Updating of state’s major revenue systems – including the corporate income tax, sales tax, and personal income tax – to ensure equity, adequacy, and transparency.
  • Comprehensive property tax reform to eliminate inequities and promote new investments.
  • Increase in investment in the “Children’s Budget.”
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
  • Participation in state budget forums and events.
  • Increased progressivity of the state and local tax system.
  • Increased state budget investments in programs that improve opportunities for children.
  • Increased reserves in the state’s “rainy day fund” to protect funding for children’s services during economic and state revenue downturns.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.

We are particularly proud of our successful efforts to promote revenue-raising policies to ameliorate the state’s large deficit and prevent drastic cuts to services that support the most vulnerable children and families. For instance, in 2015, lawmakers adopted several of our recommendations, including the combined reporting of corporate income, a more progressive personal income tax, and an elevated cigarette tax. In addition, we led a successful effort to re-categorize unfunded pension liability as debt that need not be considered in calculating allowable spending under the state spending cap. The success of that effort freed hundreds of million dollars for spending on critical human services.

Program Comments
CEO Comments

Connecticut Voices for Children is a state-wide research and advocacy organization with a big vision: that all children in our state can and should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of their race, their ethnicity or where they live.

We bring together researchers, policymakers, community leaders and in some cases youth themselves to shine a spotlight on unmet needs, identify responsive public policies and advocate for strategic public investments that will dismantle systemic barriers and build pathways to success. Our work cuts across academic disciplines, social policies, and funding silos, providing research and advocacy that informs, engages and builds demand for change.

In Connecticut today, too many families struggle to meet basic needs – challenged by the twin forces of economic change and state budgetary challenges. Today the State of Connecticut faces a structural budget deficit driven by spiraling fixed costs, exacerbated by decreased revenue (related to the longer term economic trends) and resolved in large part by cutting back on essential services that directly impact children. As a result, the total state investment in programs that benefit children and families, including early childhood education, K-12 education, health care, and poverty reduction measures has decreased from over 40 percent twenty years ago to less than 30 percent.

Across all of our work to close opportunity gaps for families, we actively foster and rely upon on the next generation of policy leadership. We promote leadership development through our rotating two-year policy fellow program. This program is integral to our capacity to conduct research, engage with coalition and partners, produce reports, and achieve our significant public policy successes. We engage our associate policy fellows in all aspects of our work, empowering them to gain expertise in substantive areas such that they can become an independent resource for other staff and the public, including collaborative partners and policy makers.

CEO/Executive Director
Attorney Ellen Shemitz J.D.
Term Start Sept 2013
Email eshemitz@ctvoices.org
Experience

Ellen Shemitz is a nationally recognized advocate with over 25 years of public and private sector experience advancing social and civil justice through research, policy analysis, advocacy, litigation and public engagement. Prior to joining Connecticut Voices for Children, Ellen lived and worked on behalf of children in Concord, New Hampshire, serving in government, private practice and the nonprofit community. Beginning in 1998, she led the state’s sister-organization to Connecticut Voices for Children, serving as President of the Children’s Alliance of New Hampshire for nearly a decade. While leading the Children’s Alliance of New Hampshire, she earned the Outstanding Advocate Award from the National Association of School Psychologists in 2003; served as the National Chair of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Steering Committee in 2006-2007; and founded the New Hampshire Child Advocacy Network, a collaborative association of more than 200 child-serving organizations. From 2008 through 2012, Ellen led the New Hampshire Association for Justice, a professional association working to promote civil justice and constitutional rights. Since joining Connecticut Voices for Children, Ellen has worked to prioritize issues of race, equity and opportunity, taking a broad systems approach that considers matters ranging from jobs and the economy to education and workforce preparation. From 2013-2015, she served as the founding Board Chair of the Partnership for America’s Children, helping to create a national network of state and local child advocacy organizations working to improve policies at the local, state and national level. She currently serves on the Connecticut General Assembly Commission on Economic Competitiveness. Ellen received her undergraduate degree from Yale University (1983) and her law degree from the Yale Law School (1987).

Staff
Number of Full Time Staff 10
Number of Part Time Staff 1
Number of Volunteers 2
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate 64%
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 8
Hispanic/Latino 2
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 5
Female 6
Unspecified 0
Former CEOs and Terms
NameTerm
Jamey Bell J.D.Oct 2008 - Oct 2012
Shelley Geballe J.D., M.P.H.Oct 1995 - Sept 2008
Senior Staff
Title Fiscal Policy Fellow
Experience/Biography Derek Thomas serves as a Fiscal Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children. Derek served as Senior Policy Analyst for the Indiana Institute for Working Families since 2012, where he focused on state-level economic analysis and policy work to support mobility for low-income families. Derek's research was cited by The Guardian, a Reuters series on income inequality, and the U.S. Department of Labor. Derek earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs and a Master of Public Affairs in Policy Analysis from Indiana University.
Title Advocacy Director
Experience/Biography Sharon Langer directs the legislative advocacy work of Connecticut Voices for Children and leads the organization’s efforts to promote health equity, health access and health care. For over ten years, Sharon has engaged in policy research and data analysis, legislative advocacy, community education and coalition-building to promote policy reforms that support families and improve health and social equity for language minorities and low-income communities. She coordinates the Covering Connecticut's Kids and Families Coalition, a project of Connecticut Voices, which brings together state officials, community health providers, advocates, and others who seek to help families enroll and access health services in the state's publicly funded health insurance program, HUSKY (Medicaid and CHIP). Ms. Langer is co-chair of the Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership Oversight Council, which advises the Departments of Social Services, Children and Families and Mental Health and Addiction Services concerning the provision of mental health and substance abuse services to families enrolled in HUSKY and children in DCF care. Prior to joining Connecticut Voices in 2004, Sharon served as an attorney at Connecticut Legal Services, Inc. for 20 years. Ms. Langer has extensive experience representing and advising low-income individuals and families concerning Medicaid, income supports, unemployment compensation and employment law, as well as in administrative and legislative lobbying on matters affecting low-income citizens of this state. Before returning to school to become a lawyer, Sharon taught young children with special needs and acted as a home-school liaison to families of adolescents and young adults with autism and other severe disabilities. She received an M.Ed. from Tufts University and a J.D. with honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
Title Research Director
Experience/Biography Dr. Daniel Long has 20 years of quantitative research experience with a strong commitment to social and educational policies for children. Most recently he was director of quantitative research at Research for Action in Philadelphia and taught for a decade at Wesleyan University. His research has focused on educational policy and social inequality; he has taught sociology, statistics, and research methods courses; and directed numerous national, state, and local surveys. He has consulted to a host of state and national organizations, providing evaluations and methodological strategies related to improving educational outcomes for children. He holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Wisconsin and taught bilingual math and science to middle school children.
Title Communications Director
Experience/Biography Roger Senserrich has close to a decade of experience in policy, communications and advocacy work in Connecticut. Before joining Connecticut Voices for Children as Communications director in 2016, Roger worked as an advocate and organizer for 1,000 Friends of Connecticut and as Outreach Advocate, Program Coordinator and Policy Director at the Connecticut Association for Human Services. He has engaged in extensive policy development and advocacy to improve access to higher education and family economic success. Roger holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona and a master’s degree in Social Studies from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, and is a graduate of the Annie E. Casey Foundation Leadership Institute for State Based Advocates program.
Title Youth Policy Fellow
Experience/Biography Lauren Ruth is Youth Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children, where she specializes in research and policy work relating to juvenile justice, child welfare, and behavioral health. Lauren has an extensive background in policy and advocacy for under-represented groups. Prior to joining the team at Connecticut Voices for Children, she worked first as a special education instructor and then as a lobbyist for early childhood, health equity, and juvenile justice organizations at the state capitol in Hartford. She received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Yale University, holds an M.S. and M.Phil. in Psychology from Yale, and a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Philosophy from Tulane University. Her academic research focuses on psychological methods to reduce prejudice and increase support for equity-related public policy.
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Collaborations

Connecticut Voices works collaboratively with a variety of partners, sharing data, seeking input from service providers, convening likely and unlikely allies to create consensus, and engaging disparate voices in our direct advocacy. While a full listing of partners would far exceed the space limits here, the list includes: Behavioral Health Partnership Oversight Council; Reaching Home Partnership for Strong Communities; Department of Children and Families Youth Advisory Boards; Better Choices for Connecticut; Covering Connecticut’s Kids and Families; Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance; Connecticut Fair Housing; Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance; Juvenile Justice Policy Oversight Council; Connecticut Parent Power; Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative at the Annie E. Casey Foundation; Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut; Medicaid Strategy Group; Oversight Council of Medical Assistance Program; New England Alliance for Children's Health; New Haven Early Childhood Education Council; Partnership for America’s Children; Center for Budget and Policy Priorities; the State Priorities Partnership; Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy; Partnership for Strong Communities; and the Yale School of Law, Legislative Advocacy Clinic.

 

Affiliations
AffiliationYear
Connecticut Association of Nonprofits1999
Awards
Award/RecognitionOrganizationYear
Youth Advocate AwardConnecticut Youth Services Association1997
Clifford W. Beers Recognition Award in recognition of and appreciation for continuing efforts as a "Voice" on behalf of Connecticut's children.Clifford Beers Clinic1998
Public Service Award in recognition of diligent & tireless efforts in advocating the rights of children and youth in ConnecticutThe Connecticut Probate Assembly2000
In recognition of dedication to the health and well-being of children and their families in Connecticut.NAMI of Connecticut2001
President's Award in recognition of outstanding advocacy on behalf of ChildrenTEAM, Inc.2002
Community Service Award for efforts, research, and perserverance.Connecticut Alliance for Basic Human Needs2002
Visionary Leadership Award in recognition of innovative leadership in child advocacy for the children of ConnecticutThe Capitol Region Conference of Churches2003
Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition in recognition of outstanding and invaluable service to the communityUnited States Congress2006
Certificate of AppreciationYouth Board of FSW, Inc.2010
Outside Organization Award in appreciation of independent research and advocacy efforts that support and sustain CT's dental Medicaid program for childrenConnecticut State Dental Association2013
Gold Star Award for efforts to provide equitable health care in underserved communities.Wheeler Clinic2015
Children’s Champion Award in recognition of their work to protect and enhance children’s health coverageNew England Alliance for Children's Health2015
Board of Directors award for extraordinary efforts to create an effective network of child advocates that will empower ever stronger, more effective and sustainable voices for children.Partnership for America’s Children2016
Comments
CEO Comments


Board Chair
Jean Adnopoz
Company Affiliation Yale University Child Study Center
Term July 2016 to July 2019
Board of Directors
NameAffiliation
Ann Baker Pepe The Foote School
Michael Bangser Bangser Consulting
Lynn Cochrane Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Inc.
Hector Glynn The Village for Families and Children, Inc.
Reverend Bonita Grubbs Christian Community Action
David Nee Retired Executive Director of Graustein Memorial Fund
Nancy Roberts Retired President of Connecticut Council for Philanthropy
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 6
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 3
Female 5
Governance
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 0
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Risk Management Provisions
Commercial General Insurance
Computer Equipment and Software
Directors and Officers Policy
Disability Insurance
Employee Benefits Liability
Employee Dishonesty
Employment Practices Liability
Fiduciary Liability
General Property Coverage
Life Insurance
Medical Health Insurance
Workers Compensation and Employers' Liability
Automobile Insurance
Commercial General Liability
Standing Committees
Finance
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Executive
Board Governance
 
 
Financials
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31 2017
Projected Revenue $1,331,499.00
Projected Expenses $1,330,941.00
Spending Policy N/A
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
Other Documents
Other Documents 3
NameYear
A Clear Vision for the Future of our State2015View
Making a Difference in 20132014View
Charity Navigator 4-Star Rating2013View
Sparking Reform: Highlights of Our Work 2007 to 20122012View
Detailed Financials
Prior Three Years Revenue Sources ChartHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201520142013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$1,410,816$1,285,012$1,205,234
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Federal------
State------
Local------
Unspecified------
Individual Contributions------
------
$56,845$110,813$74,046
Investment Income, Net of Losses$1,067$1,055$1,407
Membership Dues------
Special Events------
Revenue In-Kind------
Other$3,573$6,889--
Prior Three Years Expense Allocations Chart
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$983,056$1,069,388$1,205,479
Administration Expense$102,755$73,692$100,198
Fundraising Expense$80,384$34,887$40,998
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.261.190.95
Program Expense/Total Expenses84%91%90%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue6%3%3%
Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities Chart
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$1,307,363$1,021,249$799,368
Current Assets$1,299,662$1,014,288$796,623
Long-Term Liabilities------
Current Liabilities$68,626$88,618$92,539
Total Net Assets$1,238,737$932,631$706,829
Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountMelville Charitable Trust $220,000Hartford Foundation $309,477Melville Charitable Trust $267,274
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountCT Health Foundation $202,852Melville Charitable Trust $270,000CT Health Foundation $150,000
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountStoneman Family Foundation c/o Mott Philanthropic Prudental $125,000Stoneman Family Foundation $125,000Hartford Foundation $125,769
Solvency
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities18.9411.458.61
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capitial Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
Comments
Foundation Staff Comments
This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.
Address 33 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06510
Primary Phone 203 498-4240
Contact Email voices@ctvoices.org
CEO/Executive Director Attorney Ellen Shemitz J.D.
Board Chair Jean Adnopoz
Board Chair Company Affiliation Yale University Child Study Center

 

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