Last spring, we met with U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and asked them to support future investments in high-quality early education. We are pleased to learn that the recently enacted federal omnibus budget, while austere, made strategic increased investments in preschool, child care supports for low-income working parents, and Head Start.

We want to thank Collins and King for their support of these important programs.

As business leaders, we know that quality early learning programs are a key component to solving both long-term and short-term challenges to Maine businesses. These programs help lay the foundation for children to develop the skills needed later for their success in the workforce. Research also has shown that high-quality early learning helps ensure children start school ready to learn, reduce the need for special education, increase graduation rates and increase these children’s median earnings when they enter our workforce.

In addition, early care and education programs currently allow tens of thousands of parents to stay in our workforce, since 70 percent of children younger than 6 have their only or both parents in the workforce. These children need and deserve to be in the highest quality programs while their parents work.

Like strong K-12 education systems, quality early education for our youngest children is good for families and for Maine business. Collins and King understand these critical linkages.

Dana Connors, president, Maine State Chamber of Commerce, AugustaElizabeth “Betsey” Timm, retired Maine Market president, Bank of America, FalmouthDerek Volk, president, Volk Packaging, Biddeford