Op-ed: Stamford’s young children need your support

June 29, 2017 GMT

The experiences a child has before age 5 have a tremendous impact on lifelong success. Yet here in Stamford, our youngest citizens — who will ultimately determine our future — are not being treated as a priority.

Thanks to vast, conclusive research on brain development, early childhood education is finally receiving some of the national attention it deserves. About 90 percent of the brain is developed by age five. Children who participate in high-quality early learning programs show benefits that go well beyond school achievement to positive outcomes ranging from college attendance to higher lifetime earning power.

Despite a clear need and ample proof of effectiveness, the current state budget includes deep funding cuts for early childhood programs and more cuts are being considered. This will leave us alarmingly short of what’s needed to continue serving this community’s children in need.


Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) has been providing high-quality early childhood education programs since 1902, touching the lives of generations of Stamford residents along the way. Our impact today is greater than ever — about 43 percent of this year’s Stamford Public Schools’ kindergarteners attended our preschool programs.

We serve nearly 1,000 children a day 51 weeks a year, 10 hours a day. They are primarily from low-income, working class families.

Without CLC, these families could not afford a high-quality preschool program, which in Fairfield County can cost well over $1,500 per month. CLC families pay us on a sliding scale based on their ability to pay. On average, that’s $104 per month.

Our funding shortfall is putting our community’s children’s futures at risk. For example, the proposed cuts to Care 4 Kids, a state program that helps low- to moderate-income families pay for child care, will ultimately cost CLC $700,000. This year, we will operate on an increasing deficit that could reach $800,000. We urgently need more contributions from you, our neighbors.

Return on investment in high-quality early childhood programs for low-income children is estimated to be $7-10 for every $1 invested. Programs like CLC pay off in better education, health, social and economic outcomes, increased productivity and reduced need for social spending.

CLC educates young children in a fun environment that allows them to learn while they play. We provide not only research-based curriculum, but nutrition, exercise and nurturing. In addition to putting children on a path to future education and success, we give parents the peace of mind they need to go to work or go to school, improve their families’ lives and contribute to the economic health of Stamford and its surrounding communities.

Financial support for CLC — where 87 percent of our budget directly supports young children — is the safest and best investment in our community’s future.

Marc E. Jaffe is chief executive officer of Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County; Jennifer Lapine is chair of the CLC Leadership Council and Dudley N. Williams, Jr., is a member of the CLC Leadership Council. For more information about CLC or to learn how you can contribute, visit