Connecticut Voices for Children has honored community leaders, policymakers and advocates for children at its 14th annual “First for Kids” awards ceremony. The awards recognize individuals and organizations that have worked to make a difference in the lives of children in the state of Connecticut. This year’s honorees are:
- Priscilla Canny Research Award - Judith Meyers, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Children’s Fund of Connecticut and its subsidiary, the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut., for her leadership to ensure that all children have the opportunity to thrive. The Children’s Fund of Connecticut, a public charitable foundation and supporting organization of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, is dedicated to ensuring that children in Connecticut have a strong start in life with ongoing supports to promote their optimal health and well-being. For over 17 years she has led the organizations' efforts to improve the health, mental health and early care systems for children in Connecticut.
- Public Service Award - Myra Jones-Taylor, former Commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, for her efforts to coordinate and improve the state’s early childhood system. Jones-Taylor, a California native who was the first in her family to graduate from college, came to Hartford in 2012 to lead the planning effort for the newly forming state office. She left the agency in September 2016 and is currently Entrepreneur in Residence at Dalio Foundation.
- Statewide Child Advocacy Award - Sarah Eagan, Connecticut’s Child Advocate, for her work advancing the right of abused and neglected children and children with disabilities. She was appointed by Governor Dannel Malloy to serve as Connecticut's Child Advocate on August 1, 2013. As Child Advocate, she sets priority reviews for the OCA, manages office operations, and publishes vital information regarding the well-being of children and recommendations for system reform. Prior to this appointment, she served for several years as the Director of the Child Abuse Project at the Center for Children's Advocacy in Hartford.
- Youth Voice Award - Kate Matos and her Fourth-Grade Students at Avon’s Pine Grove Elementary, 2015-2016, for their efforts to raise funds for advocacy through kindness and team work.
“Each of us wants our children to have an opportunity to achieve their full potential. Today, at our annual First for Kids celebration, Connecticut Voices for Children is proud to honor four champions who have worked tirelessly to ensure that opportunity is available to all children in our state, regardless of race, ethnicity or family income,” says Ellen Shemitz, Connecticut Voices for Children’s Executive Director. “Children need champions willing to raise their voices to make universal opportunity a public priority. Today’s honorees have led the way.”
“Many children in Connecticut still face considerable challenges to succeed,” says Sharon Langer, Advocacy Director at Connecticut Voices for Children. “Nearly 1 in 3 of our children of color live in poverty, compared to 1 in 20 white children. Our state has one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation based on family income and race. There is a lot of work to be done to close these gaps. We are optimistic that together we can improve the lives of children.”
Connecticut Voices for Children is a research-based policy think tank based in New Haven. The organization “produces research and analysis, promotes citizen education, advocates for policy change at the state and local level and works to develop the next generation of leaders.”
PHOTO: Judith Meyers, Sarah Eagan, Myra Jones-Taylor