This post was written by Senior Policy Analyst, Rita Furlow and originally appeared as a letter-to-the-editor in the December 7, 2017 edition of the Bangor Daily News.
The key to Maine’s future is doing our best to ensure Maine’s children have the opportunity, support and resources to succeed as adults. And the Mainers in Aroostook County seem to not only understand it, but are seeing positive results.
Although The County has a higher rate of poverty than the state and national average, it also boasts an extremely high rate of public preschool enrollment, with 80 percent of 4-year-olds enrolled in the program. In fact, Aroostook County has had the highest rate of public preschool enrollment in the state for the past 10 years.Research shows that quality, early learning programs, like public preschool, can greatly improve outcomes for children, especially those living in poverty. Early childhood education provides children with a rich and stimulating environment in which to play, learn and grow during critical developmental years. As a result, children who attend public preschool are more likely to show up to kindergarten ready to learn, do better in school and graduate on time.
Maine could learn a lot from the success in Aroostook County. It’s clear that investing in our children early on matters. If we want to build a stronger state for our future, we need to start with a community-wide commitment to our youngest children.