care to boost economy

You recently published an editorial supporting early childhood intervention to prevent at-risk youth from choosing a life of crime (”Early intervention best response to ills of poverty,” Dec. 3). Interventions such as quality early childhood care and learning programs also have positive workforce implications. Maine businesses support these investments as a critical workforce development tool. Reaching at-risk kids early can help build the skilled workforce Maine businesses need to resolve our state’s crisis-level “skills gap” and boost our economy.

With quality early care, at-risk kids can get the developmental foundation they need to be successful in school. Voluntary home-visiting programs can teach parents about the needs of their children, from before birth through the crucial first five years, when scientific research shows rapid brain development takes place. Quality early education programs, including Early Head Start, Head Start and pre-K, help kids begin to build the social, emotional and cognitive skills that will help them going forward.

When kids have that strong foundation, they can be successful learners and are more likely to stay in school, graduate high school, and pursue education beyond high school. This is important for Maine businesses and our state’s economy as more jobs today and in the future require a two- or four-year college degree, or a skilled trade, professional or technical certificate.

Quality early care and education programs help lay the groundwork for creating Maine’s future workforce. Considering Maine’s workforce challenges, investing in these programs is more important now than ever before.

Jim Clair

partner, Dirigo Capital Strategies

co-chairman, Maine Early Learning Investment Group