Event | February 9, 2017

Legislative Children’s Caucus in Maine

Members of Mission Readiness, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, and ReadyNation offer testimony to support early childhood investments

On February 7, the newly formed Legislative Children’s Caucus in Maine held its second meeting, which featured members from Fight Crime: Invest In Kids, Mission: Readiness and ReadyNation as keynote presenters—each of whom made the case for investments in early childhood programs and interventions.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Bill Libby, Maine’s former Adjutant General and Commissioner of the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management; Sheriff Troy Morton of Penobscot County; and Ed Cervone, executive director of Educate Maine, all spoke about the efficacy of high-quality early learning and encouraged policymakers to make funding such programs a higher priority this session.

Many kids are starting school too far behind and never catch up.

Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton

Mission Readiness member Maj. Gen. Libby shared that a startling 71 percent of recruitment-aged Americans are ineligible for military service because of a lack of educational attainment, physical unfitness or a serious criminal record—all of which can be prevented with a robust system of early childhood education. “Expanding early learning programs for our children—be it in public pre-K, Head Start, or child care settings, is a tremendous opportunity to help our children and the nation’s security, because we now know what works to help more children do well in school and in life,” Maj. Gen. Libby said.

Educate Maine's Ed Cervone, Maj. Gen. Bill Libby, Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton, and Maine Children's Caucus Co-Chairs Sen. Rebecca Millett and Rep. Matt Pouliot.
Ed Cervone, Maj. Gen. Bill Libby, Sheriff Troy Morton, and Children’s Caucus Co-Chairs Sen. Rebecca Millett and Rep. Matt Pouliot

Fight Crime’s Sheriff Morton shared that in Maine, only 8 percent of the adult population lacks a high school diploma. However, among prison inmates, that number jumps to at least 40 percent. Sheriff Morton said, “Many kids are starting school too far behind and never catch up. If we want less crime in our state, we should invest upfront in early learning opportunities, rather than paying the high cost of school failure.”

ReadyNation member Ed Cervone talked about how all children must be prepared to join Maine’s workforce as adults as well as the need for appropriate child care services. “In Maine, 69 percent of children age 6 and under have either both parents or their only parent in the workforce,” Cervone said. “These parents need to know their kids are safe and well cared for while they work so that they can be fully attentive to the jobs that support their families.”

Founded by Sen. Rebecca Millett (D-Cumberland Co.) and Rep. Matt Pouliot, (R-Augusta), the Legislative Children’s Caucus is a non-partisan bi-cameral group created to advocate for public investments in early childhood (infancy through age 8) and to educate legislators and the public about the benefit of those investments.

MAIN PHOTO (L TO R): Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton, Senate President Michael Thibodeau, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Andre Cushing, Maj. Gen. Bill Libby and Ed Cervone

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