It was so disappointing that L.D. 1321, “An Act to Promote Social and Emotional Learning and Development in Early Childhood,” did not survive the governor’s veto. This bill would have provided support to child care providers who are dealing with children’s challenging behaviors.

Maine has one of the highest rates of preschool expulsion in the country. Preschool teachers take the brunt of children’s aggression during the most violent years of children’s lives because many don’t have the expertise to deal with explosive behavior – often the result of trauma, especially in a large group of 3- to 5-year-olds. Preschool expulsion not only is bad for the children, but also results in loss of work time for the expelled child’s parents, who no longer have child care.

Maine had spent the past few years studying this issue under the leadership of the Maine Children’s Alliance, the Maine Children’s Growth Council and state Sen. Cathy Breen, among many others. Solutions from other states were researched, coupled with significant provider input, resulting in the recommendation for a voluntary statewide early childhood consultation pilot program through the Maine Department of Education.

The goal was to reduce early childhood expulsion through consultation, coaching and professional development. The $500,000 cost would have been funded by federal child care and development block grant funds.

The failure to pass this legislation is a real shame. The burden will continue to fall on hard-working and underpaid child care providers, resulting in the lack of children’s school readiness and the negative impact on our economy.

Lori Moses
executive director, Catherine Morrill Day Nursery, Portland

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