Access to high quality early education and care is an economic imperative. Arthur MacEwan, an economist at the University of Massachusetts, summarizes the economic case in a report released last year titled “Early Childhood Education as an Essential Component of Economic Development.” Beyond the potential benefits for parents who could not work without reliable child care, the long-term gains for kids are clear:
“High quality programs can enhance children’s cognitive and social development, which will shape their well-being throughout their lives. The higher salaries that the children then obtain later in life, the greater economic contribution to society that these salaries tend to reflect, and the higher resulting tax payments are important elements of the gains that have been observed. There are, however, many other indirect economic gains: lower incidences of grade retention and special education; elevated high school graduation rates and college-going rates; reduced reliance on social support programs; better health outcomes; and less engagement with the criminal justice system.”
As a state it is important that we seek to improve access, affordability, and quality of early childhood education. LD 1581 improves quality incentives for providers and has the potential to improve affordability as well. Because it draws on existing federal funds, we do not anticipate that it will require additional state appropriations at this time.
LD 1682 restores vital funding for Head Start and child care services in FY 15. These funds will draw down additional federal funds and preserve child care access and affordability for hundreds of Maine children and families. In addition to the long-term economic benefits of investing in Maine kids, more immediate economic benefits associated with a total investment of over $5.2 million in Head Start and child care services in FY 15 include between 120 and 150 jobs created and retained throughout Maine and an overall economic impact of approximately $8.7 million.
LDs 1581 and 1682 make sound economic sense now and in the future. I urge you to support both of these important proposals.
Garrett Martin, executive director at the Maine Center for Economic Policy testifying before the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services in support of LD 1581, “An Act to Increase Access to Quality Child Care” and LD 1682 “An Act to Preserve Head Start and Child Care Services.”