Studies show that educational achievement gaps already exist at Kindergarten entry.  Children from low-income families are more likely to start school with limited language skills, health problems and social and emotional problems that interfere with learning.  The larger the gap at school entry, the harder it is to close.

Language proficiency is a key predictor of school success. Early literacy skills (size of vocabulary, recognizing letters, understanding letter and sound relationships) at kindergarten entry are good predictors of children's reading abilities throughout their educational careers. Language and literacy skills enable children to develop cognitive skills and knowledge and to interact effectively with peers and adults.



Highlights of the State
Maine has been selected to be part of the National Infant and Toddler Child Care Initiative designed to provide technical assistance, consultation and resources to states to support efforts to effect system-wide improvements in infant and toddler child care.  Maine is developing a plan of work that includes: developing Learning Results for children 0 to 3 years of age, improving the quality of infant care and increasing the availability of infant and toddler care in all areas of the state.

The Maine Child Care Advisory Concil is working with the University of Maine System to increase access to Bachelor's degree programs in Early Care and Education.

Universal access to quality early care and education will be a focal issue of the Early Childhood Task Force (Comprehensive Systems Grant).

Maine's School Readiness Indicator (SRI) Project is connected with the state's Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) grant.  The final indicators selected in the SRI project will be used as appropriate to monitor desired outcomes from the implementation of the system changes as outlined in the ECCS plan.

Maine's mental health and human service agencies are merging into one Department on July 1, 2004.  The new Department is titled the Department of Health and Human Services.  The Commissioner of the new department, John R. Nicholas, was confirmed in late April 2004.  The proposed detailed structure of the new department will be presented to the legislature in January 2005.

Policy Issues
1. Implementation of Maine's Dirigo Health Plan.

Controlling costs, improving quality and ensuring access-the Dirigo Health Reform Act is a market-based solution to address rising health care costs, improve quality of care and provide access to coverage for Maine's uninsured.  This public-private partnership will create an affordable health plan and invest in public health and disease prevention to assure every man, woman and child in Maine has affordable quality care through a reliable and accessible health care system.

2. Maintain and, if possible, expand access to child care subsidy program for low income working families while improving quality of child care programs.

3. Develop plan for universal access to four-year old kindergarten through collaboration among K-12 school districts and local child care/Head Start programs.

4. Maintain and, if possible, expand access to Early Head Start and Head Start

5. Improving preschool teacher preparation by considering revisions to preschool certification and working with higher education to improve access and relevance of preschool teacher preparation.

6. Support and expand mental health services for families with young children.

7. Addition of the Commisioner of Labor to the Children's Cabinet via statutory language.

8. Development of a Department of Health and Human Services which merges the formerly independent departments of mental health and human services.

Statutory Children's Cabinet
Children's Cabinet
Governor Angus King established the Children's Cabinet in 1995 to oversee and coordinate the delivery of services to children in Maine. The Children's Cabinet is composed of the departments directly related to children and families: Corrections, Education, Human Services, Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, and Public Safety.

The Childrens Cabinet actively collaborates to create and promote coordinated policies and service delivery systems that support children, families and communities. The Cabinet has six goals:
   - To collaborate actively to share resources and remove barriers.
   - To support collaborative initiatives that prevent health and behavioral problems in children and youth.
   - To conduct long range planning and policy development leading to a more effective public and private service delivery system.
   - To coordinate the delivery of residential and community-based childrenÂ’s services among the agencies.
   - To assess resource capacity and allocations.
   - To improve policies and programs through the review of specific case examples.

Maine School Readiness Report
Access Maine's Recommendations for Core Indicators of School Readiness by clicking on the following link:

Access Maine's Recommendations for Core Indicators of School Readiness, the Executive Summary by clicking on the following link:


© 2005, School Readiness Indicators Initiative
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The School Readiness Indicators Initiative is supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
The 17-state initiative is managed by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT