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Study: Early Head Start fails to serve thousands of Maine children


June 19, 2017
Madeline St. Amour
Morning Sentinel/Portland Press Herald

A recent study found that there are thousands more needy young children in Maine than funded slots in the state’s Early Head Start programs, which provide holistic services for low-income families with children up to age 2, as well as prenatal care.

While each Early Head Start program in the state already has a waiting list, Head Start agencies statewide are facing a potential $1.8 million cut to their budgets in Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed state spending plan.

“That will absolutely devastate the program in Maine,” said Sue Powers, who has chaired the Maine Head Start Directors’ Association since November. “Without that funding on July 1, there will be at least 83 children in Maine that will have Early Head Start discontinued.”

Supporters of early childhood programs such as Head Start point to research that shows the children go on to have better lives in a variety of ways, providing higher rates of return on investments in their communities.

“I would hope that policymakers would have an understanding that for the future success of children in school, the biggest impact they could make is to invest in that age range,” Powers said.

See NIEER’s State(s) of Head Start report for Head Start and Early Head Start enrollment, funding, quality, and duration, state-by-state.