That’s why Portland Works for Kids brings together members of the Greater Portland community to make high quality early childhood care and education affordable and accessible to everyone.
High quality child care is essential for a vibrant, thriving community. It provides a powerful two-generation approach to building the human capital that a prosperous and sustainable community requires. It strengthens the workforce and local economy by allowing parents to work, build a career, and pay their bills. It also provides young children with experiences that support school readiness and nurture their cognitive, social, and emotional growth.
Unfortunately, families struggle with the high cost of care and a shortage of quality programs. They face the uncertainty of long waiting lists and potential lost opportunities for their child, as well as their family and community.
With 90% of brain development happening by the age of 5, high quality early care and education is a smart investment in Portland’s future. Studies show that every $1 invested in comprehensive programming yields a 13% – 16% return on investment in future savings in education, health, economic productivity, and reduced crime.
This is a complex issue, but together, we can build a new reality – a community where children and families from all types of backgrounds and circumstances can have the support they need to meet their full potential. It will take all of us, working across sectors, to take action to make this vision a reality.
Did you know that 90 % of brain development happens by the age of 5?
High quality early care and education is key to the future success of our community.
Join our coalition: Help us define the system and services we want to see and engage key allies in this movement.
Get involved in the details: We are identifying major gaps in the system and aligning to public PreK expansion. We’re piloting efforts aimed at workforce development, program quality improvement, and informal care providers. We’re also working with national experts to conduct a local comprehensive birth-age 5 fiscal analysis. Finally, we’ve got a committee of local leaders working together to identify revenue needs and new funding mechanisms.
Share the message: It will community-wide support to make the change we need. To do this, Starting Strong is building a public communications and advocacy campaign.
Make it happen:Communities across the country are making high quality early care and education a reality by empowering local voters to prioritize this issue at the ballot box.
We need YOU to make this possible.
Starting Strong is not alone in this effort, but we are providing staff support for this critical work. Contact us if you’d like to get involved.
Starting Strong’s focus on increasing access to early childhood care and education has been informed by local data and national research. In 2018, we contracted with the University of Southern Maine, Data Innovation Project to research the historic and current state of PreK classrooms in the city. This research revealed opportunities to improve our PreK system and laid the groundwork for subsequent PreK expansion planning.
Starting Strong worked with School Readiness Consulting and key stakeholders from Portland to design a strategic plan for PreK expansion that met the needs of families who were most in need and underrepresented in existing programming. The result? Ensuring equitable access for all families clearly meant continuing to develop Portland Public School’s existing mixed delivery public PreK model.
Additionally, a key benefit of this model is the opportunity it provides to support children in Portland beginning at birth. Leveraging investments in PreK to support programs across the community strengthens the web of early care and education providers in Portland and offers parents and families clear benefits. And, data from Starting Strong’s Early Childhood Community Profile shows a significant need to invest in early care and education for infants and toddlers as well.
Starting Strong is the early age component of Portland ConnectED, a community-wide partnership that works to ensure the success of every child from cradle to career.