According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s (AECF) latest policy report, The First Eight Years: Building a Foundation for Lifetime Success, the nation is failing to make critical investments in a child’s early years that help them to succeed in school and life.
Children who read proficiently by the end of third grade are far more likely to graduate from high school and have successful careers. But according to the report, only 32 percent of all U.S. fourth graders and 18 percent of low-income fourth graders meet the proficiency standards.
In Maine, 63,000 (50%) Maine children ages 0 to 8 live in low income homes (<200% FPL), the highest percentage in New England. Additionally, only 37 percent of low income 3 and 4 year olds in Maine are enrolled in preschool.
The report states that in order to meet the needs of every child, early childhood systems should focus on three primary goals:
- Supporting parents as they care for their children;
- Fostering development through access to quality early care and education, health care and other services;
- Ensuring access to comprehensive, coordinated services from birth through age 8.
At the Maine Children’s Alliance, we continue to work at the state and national level to address the early childhood policy recommendations in the report. Please share this report with your elected officials, colleagues, neighbors and friends, as it is critical that everyone understand why early childhood investment is critical in Maine and the nation.