High quality early care and education is essential for a vibrant, thriving community. It allows parents to work, build a career, pay their bills and contribute to the economy while providing young children with experiences that support school readiness and nurture their cognitive, social, and emotional growth.
Unfortunately, families struggle with the high cost of child care and a shortage of quality programs. They face the uncertainty of long waiting lists and are too often forced to make high-stakes sacrifices, or even choose between staying home with their children or going to work.
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% return on investment in future savings in education, health, economic productivity, and reduced crime.
Together, we can build a new reality – a community where children and families from all types of backgrounds and circumstances can flourish and 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.Help us get there!
Over the past two years, Starting Strong has focused on increasing access to high quality early care and education as our key strategy to achieving school readiness.
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: Starting Strong isidentifying 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 staffing several committees who will accomplish the work above. 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 research. In 2018, Starting Strong 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.