I appreciated Dr. Bob Holmberg’s recent Maine Voices column on the value of early childhood consultation and outreach programs, such as the successful 10-year Washington County program he highlighted.

While these programs have numerous benefits, as a business leader I feel compelled to reinforce one point in particular: These programs will benefit Maine workplaces by helping kids who are struggling with social and emotional challenges learn the critical skills they will need as adults when many of them enter the workforce. This will, in turn, benefit Maine businesses and our state’s economy.

“Character skills” such as working well in teams, communicating constructively, perseverance and accepting and incorporating feedback are increasingly important in the modern workplace. Children who struggle with regulating and managing their emotions, and who do not have the support they need to learn these skills, will likely grow up to struggle in many employment situations.

With Maine currently facing a skills gap in which employers can’t find the skilled workers they need, programs that help to develop social-emotional skills are more important now than ever.

I strongly support early childhood consultation and outreach programs like the successful program in Washington County. I encourage Maine lawmakers to back legislation like L.D. 1321, so that Maine can further explore the expansion of these common-sense, beneficial programs. I believe their positive outcomes are a worthy investment in Maine’s kids, and I firmly believe they are critical to our state’s future economic success.

Chris Emmons

president and CEO, Gorham Savings Bank

co-chair, Maine Early Learning Investment Group

Gorham