Maine business and nonprofit leaders convened in the State House this morning to urge federal and state support for early learning. MCA Executive Director, Ned McCann, served as moderator of the press conference – an event focused on the importance of investing in early childhood programs.
“The Maine legislature has the opportunity to restore funding to essential early childhood programs and, at the federal level, Congress has the opportunity to adopt a critical new early childhood initiative. Both need to happen if we are to give every child a chance to grow to their full potential, prepare our society for the future, and save taxpayer dollars down the road,” said McCann.
“Business executives are learning that early childhood is a great place to invest our public dollars if we want to save public dollars down the road,” noted Clair, “but really the value is so much greater than that. When we provide children a strong foundation early in life, their life trajectories are changed for the better; they are more likely to graduate from high school, earn higher wages, and, we believe, contribute positively to our communities and our work places.”
Rep. Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) stressed the importance of investing “the most when it matters the most…getting it right early for the youngest in our state is the key to their future.” Rep. Berry is the sponsor of LD 1383, An Act To Improve the Delivery of Early Child Care and Education Services. This legislation would restore dollars to Head Start, Home Visiting, subsidized child care, and contains provisions designed to put Maine back on track to improving early childhood education for young children and families.
Maine economic Professor Philip Trostel spoke about his study, Path to a Better Future: The Fiscal Payoff of Investment in Early Childhood in Maine. The report findings show that high quality preschool education for a low income child saves taxpayers an average $125,400 during the course of a child’s life in Maine. Trostel said, “Public investments in early childhood education are essentially the proverbial $100 bills lying on the ground. We just need to pick them up!”