Educare – An Early Childhood Development and Parenting Project

Please join interested and knowledgeable people who are involved in childhood development, childhood education, adult education, nutrition, and other other children’s services to determine the viability of an Educare program for a discussion on Thursday, May 25, at 6:30 pm at St. Brendan’s Church, 627 North Deer Isle Road, Deer Isle. Please read further for information about the history and development of the Educare program.

Head Start, a program to meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool children was one of the first programs of the War on Poverty initiated by President Johson and Congress. It has origins that go back to 1965. Wikileaks reports that “Head Start is one of the longest running programs attempting to address the effects of systemic poverty in the US by intervening to aid children.” It has been reauthorized and amended several times by Congress several times by Congress and continues to play a significant role in helping to prepare disadvantaged children for entry into kindergarten.

In 2000, the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the Irving Harris Foundation worked together to create Educare Chicago, an early childhood school serving around 150 children. Three years later, the Buffet Early Childhood Fund and the Ounce joined forces to expand Educare. Eighteen Educare schools have been opened around the country, including “Central Maine” in Waterville.

Educare schools provide early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent-involvement services to low-income children and their families and have been extremely successful in helping prepare children for entry into kindergarten. They serve children from birth until age 5. In the Central Maine school, both Head Start and Early Head Start programs are embedded in the Educare school. Our vision is to establish and Educare or Educare-like school for the young children of low-income families of our communities who might not have the opportunity to be enrolled in a day care or Head Start program.

The intent of the discussion is to determine the viability of an Educare program. Is there a need? Are there sufficient numbers of children to warrant pursuing the vision? Where might a center be located? How many children might it serve? Would we be able to attract appropriately qualified educators to staff this school? How much would a program cost? These are but a few of the questions that need to be researched, discussed, and debated to determine if the vision is realistic. We have made contact with leaders of the Central Maine Educare program and hope to be able to share some input about the feasibility of an Educare program in our area.

Anyone who wishes to contribute to the discussion or is interested in knowing more about Educare is most welcome to attend. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact Skip Greenlaw at 460-1260 or at skipg@midmaine.com.