When our families with young children are supported, Maine is stronger, the economy and workforce we have now, as well as that of the next generation.

To have well-supported families, the early childhood education system must be strong and have access to the funds it needs to build, maintain and strengthen the quality of care available. In my role as an educator and caregiver for young children, I can attest to how many challenges early childhood educators face in helping young children in group care all day, even without factors like poverty, addiction, or diagnoses that require extra support.

The decisions we make every day about how we approach behaviors and how to manage the classroom as a whole have a huge impact on the healthy (or otherwise) social and emotional development of the children in our care. We know that healthy social and emotional development is a predictor of future success in adulthood, in career, relationships, and in the community. The more support caregivers in the field have from the community — be it in pay increases, access to better professional learning, coaching in the classroom, etc. — the more stable this workforce will be and the more able they will be to make well-informed decisions that help build a stable and healthy next generation of Mainers.

With 70% of Maine’s children having all available parents in the workforce, this is no small matter. Ours is a career that does not garner much respect from society — either in social status or in adequate financial support — and yet this very important task lies in our hands. It is time for our state to invest in the system of child care so that myself and others in the field can do justice for the children in our care and the families. Bills such as LD 1712: An Act to Support Children’s Healthy Development and School Success and LD 1652: An Act to Build a Child Care System by Recruiting and Retaining an Early Childhood Educators Workforce are needed for long term child care sustainability.

Katie Wright,
Harpswell

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