Connecticut Office of Early Childhood

Enhancing Governance Structures for the Connecticut Parent Cabinet

Practice Area: Early Childhood Development Scope: State Location: CT Status: Active

Project Overview

In 2021, the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) launched the nation’s first Parent Cabinet. This influential team of parents and community leaders is collaborating on the design of (and will influence) policies that impact children and families across the state. In this next phase, Third Sector will support OEC and its Parent Cabinet members by analyzing the effectiveness of systems, mapping critical internal and external communications processes necessary to establish an effective feedback function, and instituting a robust governance timeline and framework to ensure that current organizational efforts and leadership expertise are sustained beyond the inaugural years of the Parent Cabinet.


Most of us in America believe that all children (ages 0-5 years), no matter their race, background, or circumstance, should have the freedom to play, learn, and thrive in safe, nurturing environments. But for too long, our nation has failed to provide an adequate supply of affordable, high-quality early childhood opportunities leaving parents and caregivers with limited choices and young children without the tools they need to thrive.

In addition, as the nation has moved to stand up more robust systems and resource providers, policymakers have inconsistently included the voices, perspectives, and needs of parents and children. Parents and caregivers are experts in their child’s unique strengths and needs and should be central actors in the decisionmaking of early childhood systems. Early childhood systems should provide opportunities to better support and include caregivers in enriching their child’s development.

With its new Parent Cabinet, Connecticut is the first state in the nation to create a formal, standing parent advisory body on early care and childhood policy and practice. The OEC Parent Cabinet is a diverse, parent-led advisory group to Office of Early Childhood (OEC), which oversees child care and Care 4 Kids, home visiting, licensing, and early intervention. The cabinet meets regularly to help make improvements in the lives of children and families across the state.


In 2023, Third Sector began providing technical assistance to OEC and the Parent Cabinet on the most effective ways to ensure the new body achieves its mission of integrating meaningful parent perspectives and voice into OEC’s decisionmaking about early care and childhood development in Connecticut.

Specifically, Third Sector will be:

  • Analyzing the effectiveness of OEC systems to ensure those systems can integrate with the new Parent Cabinet;
  • Mapping critical internal and external communications processes necessary to establish an effective feedback function between OEC and the cabinet, and between OEC and the communitymore broadly via stakeholder engagement; and
  • Building a robust governance timeline and framework to ensure that the Parent Cabinet will live on and be effective in the long term throughout successive OEC leadership and state political turnover.

By the end of 2023, Third Sector will deliver to the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood:

  • Analysis and recommendations on the Parent Cabinet’s governance structure and term limits;
  • A plan for how OEC will sustain the Parent Cabinet overtime; and
  • A suite of tools to ensure effective data collection and communication takes place in ways that drive toward outcomes, meaningful parent engagement, and sustainability.
Practice area:

Early Childhood Development

Third Sector mobilizes cross-sector collaborators to transform the way our government and other providers deliver quality and affordable early childhood services in the United States.
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