Early Childhood Initiative
The Mission of the Early Childhood Initiative is to create and sustain a unified, statewide early childhood service system which provides essential resources, shares common standards for quality and respects the diversity and uniqueness of individual children and their families. We strive to:
- Change the way that Maine communities, organizations, and state government support, nurture, and protect the young children in our state.
- Strengthen the social capital and body of action that plans and puts into practice more humane and culturally respectful systems and policies for early childhood.
- Foster humane ways to help families and young children live, grow, and learn in a safe and healthy environment to reach their highest potentials.
- Humanize and dignify the ways in which we all work, talk with, and relate to each other.
- Change how we think about the public health of children so that it embraces the physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and environmental context of their lives.
The Task Force on Early Childhood serves as the vehicle to move the comprehensive systems change goals of the Early Childhood Initiative (Maine’s Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems grant from the Federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau. See www.state-eccs.org for more information)
- Reports to the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet
- Is a multidisciplinary, fluid group of stakeholders with authority, expertise and commitment to children and families
- First created as a legislative Task Force to bring quality home visiting and parent education services to Maine
- Spent three years analyzing the current resources, costs, gaps, and strengths of our public health and social service systems
- Collectively developed a comprehensive systems plan, Invest Early in Maine: A Working Plan for Humane Early Childhood Systems (Adobe PDF*); now in the second year of implementation of the state plan
- Unite, simplify, and humanize the systems and policies affecting children and families.
- Transform usage of public and private funding streams and reinvest so that we serve the largest number of children and their families possible and have a positive effect upon these children and families.
- Develop clear and simple language that will strengthen the communication that is vital to the system changes that we seek.
- Integrate dental, oral, medical, social and emotional health, early care and education, and educational systems at the community and state levels.
- Influence Maine’s culture so that our actions reflect a powerful commitment to prevention in the prenatal, infant and early childhood stages of life and to parenting as among the most important of all occupations.
- Build an understanding that such a commitment is an essential component to the social, cultural, and economic development of Maine's future.
- Strengthen quality, inclusive early care and education and children’s services so that they optimize children's curiosity and readiness for school, the ability of families to work productively, and the capacity of the state to achieve economic prosperity.
The work of the Early Childhood Initiative requires and reflects partnerships within the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, particularly between the Office of Child and Family Services and the fiscal agent, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Maine’s Maternal and Child Health (Title V) Agency. The primary focus of the Early Childhood Initiative is systems change, and the parameters of sustainable change extend beyond the scope of a single government agency. The Early Childhood Initiative bridges state departments (such as Education , Public Safety and the Attorney General's office ) and helps to foster critical opportunities for connections with--and participation of--communities and families and youth.
Funding Source: 100% Federal. Funding is provided through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) , Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s State Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Grant .