Blog | February 20, 2020

Maine members testify in support of early learning proposal First4ME

A chief, retired general and three business leaders offer unique perspectives on why high-quality early learning is good for public safety, national security and economic development

On February 13, Maine members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Mission: Readiness and Ready Nation testified before the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services in support of an early learning proposal by Senate President Troy Jackson, First4ME. Jackson’s legislation proposes to expand access to a high-quality early learning environment through 10 community-based pilot projects which will build up both center and family-based child care, as well as home visiting services for at-risk infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Long-standing research is clear that the first five years of life are a critical time of brain development, and lay the foundations for all later social, emotional and cognitive development. Our members in Maine provide unique perspectives on how high-quality early learning can improve our public safety, national security and both current and future economies.

Investments in high-quality early care and education, like the programs embraced in LD 1760, are a long-term strategy that will help young people in Maine succeed.

Mission: Readiness member Major General Earl Adams, U.S. Army (retired)

Sixty-eight percent of young adults in Maine, ages 17-24, are unable to serve in the United States armed forces because they lack education attainment, they have a criminal background, or they are physically unfit. Quality early learning programs are at the foundation of addressing these challenges. By providing young children high-quality opportunities for early learning, we can help them become successful students who are more likely to finish school and pursue the career path of their choice.

“We can save lives, hardship – and money – by investing in programs that can keep children from growing up to become criminals in the first place. Quality early learning programs can significantly reduce the chances of a child growing up to become involved in criminal activities,” says Fight Crime: Invest In Kids member Farmington Chief Jack Peck, President of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association.

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Fight Crime: Invest In Kids members support proven programs that can help prevent crime. A study of the Chicago Child-Parent Centers showed that kids who did not receive quality early learning programs were 70 percent more likely to have been arrested for a violent crime by age 18. By age 24 the now young adults who were in the Child-Parent Center program as children were 20 percent less likely to have served time in jail.

I want to stress urgency of need for quality child care in our state. Child care is one of the most fundamental components of our business infrastructure.

ReadyNation member Jeremy Fischer, attorney, and member of the Maine Early Learning Investment Group.

In Maine, 73 percent of children under the age of 6 have all available parents in the workforce. This means there are approximately 54,000 children under 6 in Maine who need child care. A parent cannot go to work without a place for their child to be nurtured and cared for while they work. Maine cannot plan for new jobs, additional workers or economic growth without quality child care being central to the economic development dialogue.

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Whether because of limited availability, high costs, or program hours that don’t work with parents’ schedules, child care challenges are driving parents out of the workforce. We can’t afford to continue to let that happen.

ReadyNation member Jason Judd, Executive Director Educate Maine and Co-Leader, MaineSpark

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“LD 1760 is an important first step toward building the early education foundation that all children need. We know that children who participate in high-quality early learning programs are 44% more likely to graduate from high school, 74% more likely to hold a skilled job and will make 26% more in earnings as adults,” says ReadyNation member Megan Diver, Senior Government Affairs Specialist, Maine State Chamber of Commerce

Addressing the child care challenges in Maine requires the coordinated approach to support children, families, and the early educators who care for the children, as outlined in LD 1760, First4ME, and for those reasons, it has garnered the support of Mission: Readiness, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and ReadyNation.

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