2011 School Readiness Report is Released in Augusta 

The Maine Children’s Alliance presented the 2011 School Readiness Report in Augusta Thursday.The findings showed both significant gains and losses.Several organizations specializing in early childhood issues set up booths along the Hall of Flags for Infant Toddler Awareness Day.State Representative Seth Berry says the first five years of life are the most critical for any child’s future development.”Early childhood is where it’s at, if we don’t get to them prenatally, early in society then we’re missing the boat,” he said.Judy Reidt-Parker with the Maine Children’s Alliance is the lead staff person for the project.The report shows 87 percent of women who are pregnant in Maine have access to prenatal care in the first trimester, that’s better than the national average, which is 76 percent.But the study also showed Maine had a high rate of children growing up in poverty. The poverty rate for children under six years old is 20 percent.”We actually out of all the six New England states we have the highest rate of children in poverty,” said Reidt-Parker.Studies show kids growing up in poor conditions are at risk for complications later on in life. While the study showed both gains and losses for the children of Maine, Representative Berry says he hopes to create a bipartisan effort to combat the issue.”As you can imagine, early childhood systems is a buffett rather than a sit down dinner, there are a number of things that we have to do all at once.”As part of Maine Children’s Growth Council, Berry hopes to use stimulus money advance child development and a rating system for child care centers.”We want to make sure there isn’t a tv turned on so they can interact with others, there are certain ratios we are looking at as well.”They hope this is just one building block for the future of Maine’s youth.