Danbury is among 35 Champion Cities in competition for seven-figure top prizes
DANBURY, CT -- Out of 320 applicants, the City of Danbury is one of 35 finalists in the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face. Danbury’s application, led by the City of Danbury in partnership with United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC), rose to the top for our innovative approach to finding a solution to the lack of affordable childcare options for low-income families.
Danbury: A Focus on Affordable Childcare
Within the city limits, nearly 1,000 children attend unlicensed daycare facilities, because their parents have no other affordable alternative. The City of Danbury in partnership with UWWC will provide incentives and training to individuals who want to establish home-based childcare, thus reducing working parents’ reliance on unlicensed services or unaffordable options.
“Affordable childcare is a very real challenge for working families,” said Kimberly Morgan, CEO of UWWC. “Childcare is the one factor that can keep a family from working and maximizing their earning potential. The recognition of the Bloomberg Philanthropies award for this very real struggle for working families cannot be overstated. We are optimistic that the work we will accomplish through the pilot of the Bloomberg Philanthropy Mayor’s Challenge will demonstrate that the public and social service sectors can come together to create real, sustainable solutions for an issue as important as affordable childcare.”
The City of Danbury does not have an adequate number of childcare providers, and affordability for hard-working, struggling households keeps existing providers from being a viable solution for those families. Due to the lack of affordability, a number of unlicensed centers have sprung up throughout the city. Social service providers have noticed children entering schools with plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome), a condition which results from babies being kept in seats or lying on their backs for long periods. Further investigations determined that without regulation and oversight, well-meaning unlicensed daycares become overpopulated and subsequently become dangerous environments for children. While regulators have been attempting to shut down these daycares, due to demand, more of these unregulated centers continue to open.
Through collaboration with the City of Danbury, UWWC, local health officials, and Danbury’s Promise for Children Partnership, the group plans to support and establish shared services with newly licensed family childcare and existing providers over the next several years. These services include integrating health services like immunizations and reducing lead exposure and promoting healthy child development and parent involvement, as well as nutritious meals delivery services. Funding will be invested into the recruitment, licensing and establishment of family home daycares while reducing the overhead costs for providers and passing those savings on to families that are searching for quality, affordable childcare.
Next Steps for Champion Cities
As a Champion City, Danbury will now embark on a six-month testing phase, competing with the 34 other cities to conduct public prototypes of our idea with grant funding of $100,000. This “Test, Learn, and Adapt” phase includes personalized support from innovation experts. Following the test program, the City will submit a new application in August 2018 to compete for the grand prize to bring our ideas to fruition. Four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million.
“This grant will enable the City of Danbury and the United Way to partner with entrepreneurial and driven residents looking to start a business and make themselves self-sustainable,” said Mayor Boughton. “The benefit of this program is not only lifting families up, but also helping children gain access to affordable and quality childcare.
The Bloomberg pilot will help implement a core component of the Boston Fed’s Working Cities Challenge grant which was recently awarded to Danbury; to increase the amount of affordable quality childcare.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million. For more information, please visit www.bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Updates regarding the Mayors Challenge will be available at mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org and @bloombergcities on Twitter.
About United Way of Western Connecticut
United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) improves the lives of hard-working, struggling households by mobilizing the resources of local communities to create lasting change. We help residents across Northern Fairfield County, Southern Litchfield County and the City of Stamford by focusing on the vital building blocks for a good life: Education, Financial Stability and Health. We are committed to ensuring that every child enters school ready to learn, every family is financially stable, and every community we serve is healthy and strong. We are particularly focused on a population that United Way identifies as ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) in our communities. A United Way report published in October 2016 revealed that in Connecticut, more than 1 in 4 households has earnings above the Federal Poverty Level, but below a basic cost-of-living threshold. Combined with those who are struggling below poverty level, 38% of all households in the state are experiencing ﬁnancial hardship. By leveraging the collective power of the community, we are focused on creating an environment where individuals and families are self-sufficient and can achieve financial independence. For more information about United Way of Western Connecticut, please visit: www.uwwesternct.org. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Follow us on Instagram. Watch us on YouTube.
United Way of Western Connecticut