The State of Early Childhood in Maine: A June 2015 Update

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Highlights from our June 2015 Early Childhood Newsletter

An Update on Early Childhood BillsState House
The Appropriations Committee will be making critical funding decisions regarding early childhood bills as they wrap up the next two-year budget. Even though all these bills have not been heard in the House and Senate, the Committee may consider these funding requests in the budget negotiations.

In May, the Health and Human Services Committee held a work session to consider four early childhood bills. While the committee unanimously voted to amend and support LD 552, An Act To Provide Funding for Home Visiting Services, which provides $2.2 million in additional funding for Maine Families for FY 16-17, the vote for LD 977, An Act To Improve Child Care in the State was split.

LD 1054, An Act to Provide Funding for Head Start Services will likely receive the support of ten lawmakers, with three members voting against the bill.

Finally, the committee agreed to hold over LD 1267, An Act To Assist Working Families with Young Children until the next Legislative Session. This bill supports additional funding for Maine Families/home visiting, Head Start, and child care.

YB14_archives_bannerprotoPreschool Funding 
Last year, the 126th Maine Legislature enacted a bill that directed funds to local school districts to aid in the creation and expansion of public preschool options, by providing $4 million from casino dollars.

The Governor allowed the bill to become law without his signature, but has removed the bill’s funding from this year’s budget. The Education Committee divided over whether to begin the funding in FY 15-16 or in the second year of the biennium. In an initial vote this week, the Legislature voted to postpone funding until 2018.

“If we intervene with very young children it is more likely to change behaviors and we can teach children the skills they need for success in school and life.” – Rita Furlow, MCA Senior Policy Analyst
“If we intervene with very young children it is more likely to change behaviors and we can teach children the skills they need for success in school and life.” – Rita Furlow, MCA Senior Policy Analyst

Social Emotional Development Progress
This year, MCA invited a group together to explore issues surrounding social emotional development in children. The group formed in response to increased reporting of the expulsions and children exhibiting challenging behaviors that impact an entire classroom or child care setting.

Our goal was to generate policy discussions to address social emotional development of young children, especially those who are already at a high risk of failure in social and academic environments.

As a result of our advocacy efforts, the Education Committee has taken steps to explore this complex issue. The committee has asked the Maine Children’s Growth Council to gather additional data on the social emotional development of children and develop appropriate policy recommendations.

In conjunction with MCA, the Growth Council will embark on this effort in the upcoming weeks and months. The work will be supported by the Ounce of Prevention and the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University as a result of our partnership with the Alliance for Early Success.

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