A recent article in the Central Maine newspapers about the Educare early learning and development center in Waterville caught my attention. It was heartwarming to read about the “Parking Lot Pickup” initiative Educare started to help make sure kids and families have food and the supplies they need during the coronavirus pandemic.
With schools and learning centers closed, and a lot of parents not working right now, many Maine kids are increasingly vulnerable. That means it is more important than ever that communities do what they can — just like Educare is — to make sure kids’ needs are met.
Most of the kids age 6 weeks to 5 years that Educare and programs like it reach are in families that are struggling to make ends meet in normal times. Many of them are at high risk for food insecurity, neglect and abuse. These children also face barriers to high-quality early learning. Learning in a child’s first five years is fundamental to their cognitive, social and emotional development and school readiness. Kids who start school ready to learn are more likely to do well in school, graduate, and go on to higher education and be productive, successful adults.
A lack of early learning opportunities can impact a child’s academic achievement, career readiness and ability to succeed later in life. For some kids, it can lead to criminal behavior.
Kudos to Educare for the work it does every day for the kids in its program. Extra kudos for the support Educare continues to provide to its young participants and their families during this pandemic. That work makes a huge difference. Educare’s story provides a great example of how organizations and people are coming together in communities across Maine to support one another, including Maine kids, in this unprecedented time.
Joe Massey, Waterville’s Chief of Police