Maine learned how to deal with poverty and welfare back in the early 1980s, then reallocated the resources to the more politically acceptable ASPIRE program as administrations changed.

Colorado reinvented the solution, as reported in the New York Times on July 7: “Colorado Finds Startling Success in Effort to curb Teenage Births.” Isabel Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution, observed when reviewing the Colorado program, “If we want to reduce poverty, one of the simplest, fastest and cheapest things we could do would be to make sure that as few people as possible become parents before they actually want to.”

Colorado offered teenagers devices and implants that prevent pregnancy and the birthrate among teenagers across the state plunged by 40 percent; abortions fell by 42 percent. Maine had similar success with a teen parent program during the Brennan administration.

In the case of Maine’s early intervention with teens, that Colorado now reports as a “startling success,” a new administration was so taken by the notion of getting people off welfare they were unable to see that a major solution had already been found and, in their enthusiasm, they scuttled that success.

How about asking the University of Southern Maine School of Social Work to look at Colorado’s program and revisit what Maine did back in the 1980s and see if that might be part of the solution to the welfare problem Maine struggles with today?

Otherwise, we may be struggling with the same issues 35 years from now.

James Tierney, Auburn

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