To the editor:
I was pleased to read about a new partnership between Aroostook County Action Program and Limestone Community School to expand full-day pre-kindergarten. This is great news for families in the region, as well as area employers and our economy.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic approximately two years ago, Maine’s workforce shortage has worsened. Employers across the county and state are struggling more than ever to fill open jobs. This is a tremendously tough challenge for businesses, and comes on top of inflationary concerns, supply chain disruptions and other issues holding back our economy.
When it comes to workforce barriers, parents today cite lack of child care as one of their biggest obstacles to employment. Numerous child care centers in Maine have closed over the last two years. Many rural parts of Maine are “child care deserts,” with only one childcare slot for every three eligible children, according to a January 2021 Council for a Strong America report.
The ACAP and Limestone Community School partnership will make a big difference by enabling parents to enter or re-enter the workforce at this critical time. Longer-term, high-quality pre-K programs across The County and Maine will make it possible for more parents to work, and will give working parents security and peace of mind knowing that their kids are well cared for when they are on the job.
Most importantly, early learning programs have a big impact on a child’s future success. They set kids up with the skills they need to start kindergarten strong, succeed throughout school and later as adults, including as part of Maine’s future workforce.
Thank you to the state for recognizing child care is a big challenge in our area, and for allocating funding needed to help address this challenge. Thank you also to ACAP and Limestone Community School for partnering on this critically important program for area families, and for making sure more kids have the excellent support they need to get a strong start in life. Our community, employers and economy will benefit from this partnership for decades to come.