Who We Are

The Connecticut Children’s Collective is a network of local partnerships creating positive outcomes for Connecticut’s children and families. Only by working together can we identify the local needs of children, provide outreach to families, and improve local programs and services. Local leaders, parents, educators, and providers know best what works in their community, and working together can dramatically improve outcomes for all Connecticut’s children.

Michelle Doucette Cunningham

Executive Director
[email protected]
860 730-2941

Michelle is widely respected as an expert on state level systems for after school and summer programming. She has been with the Connecticut After School Network since 2004, and serves as their Executive Director. In addition to her more than thirty years of non-profit experience, she holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Eagleton Institute for Public Policy at Rutgers University and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Smith College.

Before joining the the Connecticut After School Network, Michelle’s previous position was the City Scan Project Director for the Connecticut Policy and Economic Council. In the four years she served as Project Director, she expanded City Scan from a small pilot project to a model that is being used in nine cities across the country.

Prior to her work on City Scan, Michelle was the Director of Education at the Connecticut Association for Human Services, where she managed the Connecticut Kid’s Count project. She is the author of seven reports on the well-being of Connecticut’s children.

Barbara V. Vita, M.Ed

Early Childhood Network Specialist
[email protected]
860 730-3371

Barbara is passionate about supporting teaching professionals, community organizers, parents, caregivers, and children as they realize their full potential. Barbara holds a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Education from the University of Hartford, and a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Psychology from Central Connecticut State University where she earned her certification in secondary education as an English teacher.

Barbara has been working with children and families for over twenty years. Prior to joining the Network, Barbara’s work throughout the greater Hartford area has included serving as an infant & toddler teacher, assistant director and director of various early learning centers, coordination of a family resource center, and serving as director of a community school. In these roles she has supervised after school programs, early childhood playgroups, truancy programs, home visiting programs, and taught parenting education, 2-Gen literacy classes, and served on school attendance and mental health teams.

Barbara has enjoyed presenting at numerous local, state, and national conferences on the topics of Toxic Stress, Mindfulness, Leadership, Family Literacy, Parent Engagement, and Social-Emotional Learning. Barbara has served as a member of the Charter Oak Cultural Center’s Board of Directors since 2018, and has been a member of the West Hartford Women’s Chorale since 2010. Barbara has two grown sons who she is very proud of and grateful for.

Ken Anthony, Ed.D

Director of Professional Development & Research
[email protected]
860 730-2942

Since 2008, Ken has been with the Connecticut After School Network and oversees training and professional development work, creating linkages between the school day and after school, and working with communities to establish sustainable programs that both enrich and support children and families. He also helps in supporting the Cayen data system and leads the Quality Advising efforts for State Funded After School Programs. Ken brings more than twenty years of experience in the field of after school and youth development.

Ken recently graduated from the University of Hartford Educational Leadership Program with a Doctorate in Education, he holds a Master’s degree in Human Services with a concentration in Organizational Management and Leadership, and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Child Development. He has been a presenter at the local, regional, and national level on leadership and creating effective partnerships and collaborations. He authored a book entitled, School and Afterschool Personnel Reports of Partnership, Communication, and Academic Resource Sharing and is an area Ken is passionate about.

He is the Former District Family Resource Center Coordinator for the Windsor Public Schools, where he administered five family resource centers as well as the Child Care Services Director for the New Britain YMCA and a national YMCA of the USA trainer.

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The Connecticut Children’s Collective is an Initiative by the Connecticut Network for Children and Youth.
To learn more about what we do and meet the rest of our team visit our website.


The Connecticut Children’s Collective is funded by the generous support from the Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaboration, a project of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, which was formed in 2011 by a group of 16 funders to provide input and support to the state’s early childhood system building efforts. In 2015, the Collaborative provided funding for this effort to explore options for strengthening the connections of local communities to one another and to the state in order to share information and best practices.


The Connecticut Children’s Collective is proud to work alongside our partnering state agencies equally committed to the health and well-being of Connecticut’s children and families.