One Year of Baby Bonds in Connecticut

By Connecticut State Treasurer Erick Russell | June 24, 2024

Connecticut State Treasurer Erick Russell is joined at the state capitol by Maria Matos (left), Vice President of CT Latinos for Educational Advocacy and Diversity (LEAD), and CT Baby Bonds baby Evan, with his parents. Evan and the CT Baby Bonds program received a special shout-out from Governor Ned Lamont in the 2024 State of the State Address on February 7. Photo: Office of Connecticut State Treasurer Erick Russell

Baby Bonds are an increasingly popular government policy in which every child born into poverty receives a publicly funded trust account at birth, providing them with “start-up capital” to pursue fulfilling, productive, prosperous, and self-directed lives. Follow our Baby Blogs series to learn about the vision, politics, and people behind Baby Bonds and their transformative impact on the lives of young people, their families, and communities.

In this installment of Baby Blogs, Connecticut State Treasurer Erick Russell reflects on the one year anniversary of the state’s first-in-the-nation Baby Bonds program, its successes and opportunities, and the push to implement Baby Bonds in every state across the country.

Celebrating the First Anniversary of Connecticut’s Baby Bonds Program

One year ago, Connecticut embarked on a groundbreaking journey to combat the state’s tremendous wealth gap and lift future generations out of poverty by fostering generational wealth. CT Baby Bonds, the first initiative of its kind in the country, marks its first anniversary on July 1, a good opportunity to celebrate our successes, look back on what we’ve learned, and think about the possibilities for the future of the program.

Laying the Foundation

The inaugural year of CT Baby Bonds has been focused on laying the groundwork for this wide-ranging and impactful initiative. Funding was secured last spring through an innovative solution put forward by my office to repurpose available cash reserves and fund the investments upfront, reducing estimated costs by over $200 million and avoiding borrowing by the state. This fully funded the program for 12 years and allowed my team to begin investing nearly $400 million immediately. The Connecticut Baby Bonds Trust was officially formed and funded in August of 2023.

Just shy of 16,000 CT Baby Bonds babies are anticipated to be born every year. While we certainly understood intellectually what that would mean for our state, the birth of Nolan, the first baby in the program, really brought it home for my team and me. A few tears were shed around our office that day. Seeing Nolan and knowing what CT Baby Bonds could mean for his future brought us all so much joy and inspired us to do as much as we possibly could to maximize the impact of this program for every child. 

Rolling Out the Program

With the financial infrastructure in place, our focus has shifted largely to outreach and awareness. Every child born in Connecticut whose birth is covered by HUSKY (the state’s Medicaid program) is automatically enrolled in the program without a need for parents to apply or enroll. Even so, raising awareness for the program is crucial. The goals for CT Baby Bonds reach far beyond the money it will eventually provide.

The capital that will be available 18-plus years down the road is only one measure of success. We have an opportunity between now and then to maximize the impact of CT Baby Bonds and help families build a strong foundation for their future. We’re reaching out to community partners across the state to help us develop wraparound services for participants and their families. We’re looking to use the program as a vehicle to support and engage directly with some of the most in-need families and children in our community, bridging connections to help them access existing services and programs, while raising awareness of CT Baby Bonds in the process.

We believe that the promise of CT Baby Bonds will itself create hope for families. When a child grows up knowing that college or homeownership—things that might have felt impossible—are going to be real, tangible options, that child’s life can immediately change for the better. That sense of possibility and optimism about the future can influence whether they stay in school and what they believe is possible for them to achieve in their lives. 

I can’t help but reflect on my experience growing up in Connecticut and what something like this would have meant for the kids around me. We didn’t have much, but I saw other families in my neighborhood who were really struggling. A lot of those kids didn’t see a path to something better, and that affected their entire life experience. What would CT Baby Bonds have done for them?

Looking Ahead

As CT Baby Bonds heads into its second year, my office is working on a long-term strategic plan that will incorporate additional communications efforts and community partnerships, including an “Ambassador” program that will equip trusted local messengers with training and materials to engage directly with clients and constituents. We are also working with the philanthropic community to discuss additional funding for CT Baby Bonds, which could include research and more wraparound programming. 

I’m extremely proud of Connecticut for leading the way on CT Baby Bonds, and I’m eager to collaborate with other states to help them pass programs of their own. The Baby Bond concept is backed by extensive research, and we have found that it has broad, bipartisan support. I want to do all I can to help leaders in other states implement this truly life changing opportunity.

Connecticut State Treasurer Erick Russell was sworn in as Connecticut’s 84th State Treasurer on January 4, 2023. He is currently serving his first term. Russell continues to advocate for people traditionally left out of the political process and denied economic opportunity. He is prioritizing financial literacy, sound fiscal policy and necessary statewide investments that maximize resources while growing the economy and combating systemic inequities.

If you missed previous installments of our Baby Blogs series, read them here

Learn more about Baby Bonds in Connecticut.

To share feedback on this blog, or for questions about Baby Bonds, email David Radcliffe at [email protected].

To learn more, explore our Baby Bonds resources.