CAHS works to strengthen Connecticut’s children, families and communities by improving public policies and helping the working poor create their own pathway to financial success.
In order for families to move on a path toward economic security, they must have access to basic needs like food, housing, child care, and health care. Work supports such as the federal and a state Earned Income Tax Credit greatly increases the ability of low-wage workers to provide for their family. Affordable, quality early care and education puts children on the path to be ready to learn when entering school and ready to succeed in the workforce. Financial education gives parents the tools to budget, plan, and build assets. Access to affordable workforce training and skills development enables lower-wage parents to move up the career ladder, increase their income and save for the future. Finally, an equitable, transparent, and sustainable tax policy will ensure that Connecticut has strong families, vibrant workforce, and a thriving economy.
All of these policies and practices, when put together, build a strong foundation for Connecticut’s children and families. CAHS advocates for policy change on many of these fronts. The Family Economic Success Coalition (FES), funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, strives to create this kind of opportunity in the state.
Family Economic Success (FES) Coalition
CAHS informs, convenes and mobilizes the FES Coalition, a coalition of direct providers, advocates, and individuals committed to help families move out of poverty to economic security. We provide timely and relevant email informational updates about the state budget, policy issues, and action alerts.
State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
CAHS was delighted to be present when Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed Connecticut’s Earned Income Tax Credit into law in August 2011, and has advocated to its restoration after it was reduced in 2012.
CAHS spearheaded a campaign to enact a State EITC during the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Legislative Sessions and worked tirelessly for its passage. The EITC is a critical support for families earning $50,000 and less. It will leave thousands of Connecticut families out of poverty and help them build assets and build a secure economic future.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
VITA provides free tax preparation services to low-wage tax filers, ensuring they receive the federal EITC and other tax credits. VITA also serves as a vehicle to Connecticut low-wage workers with financial education and asset building resources. CAHS works with the National Community Tax Coalition to push for increased federal funding to support VITA sites across the county.
CAHS supports expanding state funding for financial education opportunities for low-wage individuals, and incorporating financial education into the middle- and high-school curriculum. In addition to our policy work, CAHS coordinates the Connecticut Money School.
Access to Benefits
Connecticut residents too often experience unnecessary difficulty and delays in accessing benefits for which they are eligible. The lack of a streamlined application process and electronic filing, and too few state employees to process benefits results in struggling families waiting for as much as 90 days to receive such supports as SNAP and Care 4 Kids. CAHS continues to push for a better system to ensure that families can put food on the table and enroll their children in quality early care and education so that parents can work and contribute to the economy.
CAHS offers programs the Earn Benefits Online (EBO) tool. EBO is an easy-to-use, web-based system that allows individuals to be screened for eligibility for sixteen public benefits programs. EBO is already being utilized in other states, including Georgia, Maryland, New York, and Tennessee. CAHS has been working with a variety of providers in Connecticut to train and provide technical assistance on the EBO software and the system was ready to launch in Connecticut this month. The easy screening process involves a client answering fourteen questions from an agency staff person. The EBO software program then produces a list of benefits the client is eligible for, clear instructions on what paperwork is needed, and fills out relevant forms. EBO expedites the process of applying for benefits and helps to eliminate the barriers that hinder individuals' and families' access to needed benefits. For more information, contact Aleja Rosario at ARosario@cahs.org or Joel Rivera at JRivera@cahs.org.
Paid Sick Days
Connecticut became the first state in the nation to offer paid sick leave in 2011. CAHS had partnered with other advocates to work for this important support for working families.
Connecticut created a task force to study the implementation of paid family medical leave in the state, due to report for the 2014. CAHS was part of a coalition advocating for the creation of the task force, and is partnering with other advocates in support of this program.