Members Speak Up in Support of Head Start in Maine
Head Start strengthens our economy, public safety, and national security
Mainers representing Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, ReadyNation, and Mission: Readiness have been busy this legislative session. The three membership organizations, comprised of law enforcement leaders, business executives, and retired admirals and generals, respectively, have shared their varied but unified perspectives with lawmakers regarding the importance of high-quality early education and care programs.
One of the most important long-term investments that we can make for an effective fighting force is in the education of the American people.
Major General Earl Adams, U.S. Army (retired) and former Maine Adjutant General
A prime example of their work—and of their great results—is pending legislation that expands Head Start access and funding. Throughout February and March, Maine members provided testimony at critical points of the legislative process. As a result, a bill to increase Head Start access passed through the Health and Human Services Committee, the Senate with a vote of 29-6, and the House with a vote of 84-61. It now awaits action by the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee for funding.
Head Start is a building block to help strengthen Maine’s future workforce and our economy.
ReadyNation member Ben Gilman, Seniors Government Affairs Specialist, Maine State Chamber of Commerce
Studies have shown that Head Start can return, on average, a “profit” (economic benefit minus costs) to society of nearly $17,000 for every child served. Some of these cost-savings for taxpayers come from reduced rates of crime and imprisonment. A number of studies show that “when young at-risk children are able to participate in high-quality early learning programs like Head Start, they are much less likely to be involved in later crime,” Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett explained to the Health and Human Services Committee.
As a Board member of Promise Early Education Center, Auburn Chief of Police Phil Crowell knows the data show that 90% of children ages three and four who attend Promise for just one year meet or exceed developmental targets for school readiness. Chief Crowell reminded the Committee that part of the model of Head Start is to work not just with the children in the program, but also their parents. While the centers are providing high-quality learning environments to prepare children for school, their trained staff are supporting families in accessing education, job training, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and other services based on families’ individual needs. This two-generation approach is important not only for improving students’ outcomes, but also for supporting the goals of their parents and guardians.
Law enforcement leaders, business executives, and retired admirals and generals hope to see the Head Start program expanded and strengthened in Maine.