As early as this week, the Legislature may consider a supplemental budget that threatens to hurt children. Programs such as Head Start, the Maine Families Home Visitation Program and the Child Care and Development Fund that promote children’s health, facilitate their success and strengthen their development are on the chopping block.
Legislators should reject any attempts to undermine these programs.
Scientific and economic research demonstrates that investments in early childhood produce great dividends. Not only is that good for children, it is essential for the long-term well-being of Maine’s economy. Indeed, such investments promote a more productive work force and reduce the need for more expensive services later.
The damage caused by these cuts, however, won’t just come in the future. Cutting these programs will also cause problems right now.
Head Start and Child Care and Development Fund cuts mean some parents will be forced to quit their jobs or place their children in unsafe situations. The Home Visitation Program cuts threaten to undermine efforts to reduce child abuse and will make it more difficult for some children to get a good start in life.
These programs are among the best investments we can make as a state. I urge the Legislature to continue to support early care and education programs. Our children, communities and economy depend upon it.
Dan D’Auteuil Jr., Lewiston
Board chairman, United Way of Androscoggin County