Literacy for ME: Maine's Comprehensive State Literacy Plan
Appendix B: Descriptions of Statewide Literacy-Related Initiatives
Statewide Early Learning Guidelines for Birth to School Age Five Year Olds
Supporting Maine’s Infants and Toddlers/Guidelines for Learning and Development
Adopted in 2005, this document offers parents of infants and toddlers, early childhood professionals, and policy makes a set of guidelines about development and learning. The goals are to help individuals understand what to look for as a baby grows and develops and to aid in understanding that infants’ and toddlers’ natural learning patters and abilities can be nurtured in everyday activities occurring in a home or child care setting.
State of Maine Early Childhood Learning Guidelines (3-5)
Adopted in 2005, The Maine Early Childhood Learning Guidelines were developed to serve as a guide for sate and local early care and education practitioners’ efforts to improve early childhood practice and programs for young children ages three through their entrance into kindergarten. The Guidelines are intended to effect greater collaboration and consistency across systems by aligning practices across all early childhood settings. Currently under revision, these guidelines will become part of a web based progression document from Birth through age eight.
Statewide Plan for a Comprehensive Early Childhood System
The Maine Children’s Growth Council is charged in statute to perform specific duties intended to improve the social and financial investments in Maine’s youngest children and their families. The Council has adopted the Invest in ME plan and reflects a comprehensive approach, through structured committee work, to ensure ongoing accountability of the system in conjunction with the legislative and executive branches of government, municipal and community leaders, parents, youth and providers.
Early Reading First
Early Reading First is a project of the U.S. Department of Education, which provides funding to transform existing early childhood education programs into preschool centers of educational excellence. The mission of Early Reading First (ERF) “is to ensure that all children enter kindergarten with the necessary language, cognitive, and early reading skills for continued success in school.” Many children enter school without the foundations in vocabulary, ability to attune to the sounds of language, knowledge of the alphabet, and the world of print. Research shows these are critical precursors to reading proficiency. This foundation is particularly lacking in many children from low-income families or those who are English Language Learners. Maine has received two Early Reading First grant awards, one in Waldo county and one in the greater Portland area.
Through a coast to-coast network of state-of-the-art programs, Educare serves at-risk children from birth to 5 years. Educare Central Maine is the first Educare site in New England and is designed to serve between 150 and 200 mostly low-income children during this most critical brain development stage. The goal is to measurably increase their school-readiness and significantly reduce unnecessary special education costs.
Parents and caregivers are essential partners in preparing children for school and Educare Central Maine will support them with education and comprehensive supports to improve health, self-sufficiency and long-term parent and child well-being and success.
A private/public partnership, Educare Central Maine will serve as a state-of-the-art professional development and resource center for child care professionals across the state, as well as a teaching lab for students seeking an early childhood degree in Maine.
Maine Reading First
The Reading First initiative is a federal grant program that supports K-3 classroom teachers and students, as well as K-12 special education teachers and students, to boost reading achievement through ongoing professional development and implementation of comprehensive reading programs. The goal of Reading First is to instill proven methods of early reading instruction into classrooms by establishing a comprehensive program grounded in scientifically- based reading research. Funding supports both statewide professional development for all K-3 regular educators and K-12 special educators, as well as competitive sub-grants to eligible school systems for the implementation of comprehensive reading programs. To date, 23 Maine School Systems have received Maine Reading First sub-grants, impacting 25 schools.
Adult Education and Family Literacy
Through classroom instruction or tutoring, Maine Adult Education and Family Literacy initiatives teach the basic reading comprehension and numeracy skills necessary to function in our literate community. Programming areas include English as a Second Language and Family Literacy, an approach integrating early childhood education and adult education and parenting skills. In FY 11 local adult education programs served over 5,000 adults in need of this type of programming. There were also over 1600 adults engaged in coursework leading them to a high school credential. Maine’s adult basic education and family literacy programs are supported by the federal Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) with many local programs also using local tax support and income from other grant sources.