Educare is a high quality learning and development center partnering with families and communities to ensure school readiness for children birth to age five.
Educare is a:
Educare Central Maine (ECM) is a state-of-the-art early learning center located in Waterville, Maine. ECM is connected to the George J. Mitchell Elementary School (GJMS). Together the partners focus on a continuum of quality early learning experiences from birth through grade 3. The partnership with GJMS offers a natural transition between educational homes for the young learners, their parents, and maximizes staff resources and expertise.
ECM is a Certified as a LEED "Green" facility. It is designed to support each young child's unique social, emotional and cognitive development. The design of an early learning environment is critical to supporting teacher:child and parent:child interactions. ECM’s facility design is based upon research that highlights the relationship between high quality learning facilities and improved child and family outcomes. In essence, the way that the building is designed enhances the learning of each child. Adjacent to the classrooms are learning spaces and hallways that provides ample space and layout to be used for yearround indoor small and gross-motor development.
ECM functions as a high quality early care and education demonstration site for the State of Maine. Like all states with Educare facilities, ECM serves as a demonstration site for the highest quality teaching and instruction and a model for excellence in space design elements. The goal is not to construct a new center in every Maine community, but rather to replicate elements of its best practices across the state, regardless of learning environment.
ECM is the most rural Educare center in the nation and provides the the Educare Learning Network critical information to aid in rural program development across the country.
Educare Central Maine serves 200 mostly low-income children from birth to age 5. Service is designed to prepare children to enter kindergarten engaged, healthy and socially/emotionally ready to succeed. Parent input, education and needed supports to help their children succeed in education and life are key program components. Parent partnerships are critical to sustainability of long-term child and family outcomes.
Children and families enrolled at ECM receive an array of early childhood development, health, nutrition and family support services. Among other features of quality child care settings, the program includes the following:
- Low child/staff ratios to ensure trusting and secure relationships improve the quality of care, and support the child's developing identity.
- Literacy development; the foundation for school readiness.
- Infant mental health services, which promote healthy emotional development in infants and toddlers.
- Nutritious meals and nutrition consultation.
- Primary care, mental and oral health services for infants, children, and families, including sick and well-baby care.
- Extensive staff training and development programs at the on-site training center.
Educare Central Maine is a formal partnership between Waterville Public Schools, KVCAP Early/Head Start, the William and Joan Alfond Foundation and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. It is governed through shared leadership among and between these four primary entities which strive to:
..Ensure meaningful collaboration and decision-making between the school district, Early/Head Start, and private philanthropy community that is committed to long-term support, quality assurances and ongoing evaluation;
..Provide assistance to replication opportunities in partnership with the state and emerging Educare community partnerships; and
..Support and promote a vision to better prepare disadvantaged children to succeed in school and in life.
Quality Staffing: In order to meet the nationally-recognized Educare model requirements for quality, lead classroom teachers hold bachelor degrees and receive coach/mentoring support from a master level teacher.
Family and Parent Support: Family support staff conduct a full range of activities with families, adapting to the schedules and life setting of parents. The family support staff has a specific and intentional role in supporting the parent:child relationship and the parent's role in their child's school and educational experiences, the development of relationships with community providers who can assist families in receiving necessary supports, and connecting families to those supports.
Link to Higher Education Degree Programs: ECM is designed to serve as a state-of-the-art professional development and resource center for child care professionals, as well as a teaching lab for students seeking a degree in early childhood. It provides multiple opportunities for parents and staff, college students and practitioners to observe and participate in high quality service and innovations in practice.
Child academic, social/emotional achievement and family engagement are driven by an interdisciplinary teacher and family support model that is strengthened by ongoing assessment and evaluation. Teachers actively engage in observation, reflection, shared intentional planning, and receive feedback from master teachers.
Program evaluation is conducted by the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service and Frank Porter Graham. Program components, professional development supports and implementation activities are guided by evaluation findings.
Science and research clearly reveals what is needed to promote school readiness for children in poverty. Yet, public policies and funding priorities often lag behind. In states across the country, Educare centers are helping to strengthen public investments in high-quality, research-based programs.
Educare is a platform for long-term policy change, offering a tangible way to show policy makers and other opinion leaders the kind of early learning environment all children deserve, but specifically for children at risk of school failure. Educare shows compelling evidence of what can happen when you raise quality standards across birth-to-five programs and push for policy and system changes to ensure that public dollars are targeted.
The Educare model is designed to bring to bear the best research and evaluation for short and long-term quality assurance, serve as a state and regional replication model program for meeting the highest level of quality programming to children and families, and inspire local, state, and national leaders to change policy based on positive child and family outcomes.