Children’s Caucus to host military, law enforcement experts Tuesday

Posted: February 06, 2017 | Senator Millett
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Early childhood education would drive down crime, increase eligibility for armed service

AUGUSTA — The Legislative Children’s Caucus will hold its second meeting on Tuesday, February 7, and will feature distinguished leaders from law enforcement and the armed services, who will make the case for investments in early childhood programs and interventions.

“The fact that 60 lawmakers from both parties attended the first meeting of the Children’s Caucus just shows how much support there is for policies and initiatives that support the next generation of Mainers,” said Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, co-chair of the Caucus. “At the next meeting, we’re picking up right where we left off — learning from the experts why investments in our children are critical not only for their futures, but for society’s well-being.”

The caucus will host retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Bill Libby, Maine’s former Adjutant General and Commissioner of the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management; Sheriff Troy Morton of Penobscot County; and Ed Cervone, executive director of Educate Maine. All three speakers will issue new reports during the Caucus meeting.

According to a Mission: Readiness report titled “Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve,” a startling number of recruitment-age Americans are ineligible for military service because of a lack of educational attainment, physical unfitness or a serious criminal record — all of which can be prevented with a robust system of early childhood education. Maj. Gen. Libby will discuss how high-quality early learning can put all Maine children on the path to a successful career — whether in the military or in another field.

In Maine, only 8 percent of the adult population lacks a high school diploma. But the best available information shows that more than 40 percent of inmates lack a high school diploma. The actual figure may be even higher, as many inmates decline to answer voluntary questions about educational attainment.

Sheriff Morton will discuss the ways that early childhood education can set the stage for later educational success, and drive down the rates of crime and incarceration in the long-term.

“Many kids are starting school too far behind and never catch up.  If we want less crime in our state, we should invest upfront in early learning opportunities, rather than paying the high cost of school failure,” said Sheriff Morton.

Ed Cervone will talk about how all children must be prepared to join Maine’s workforce as adults as well as the need for appropriate child care services. In Maine, 69 percent of children age 6 and under have either both parents or their only parent in the workforce. These parents need to know their kids are safe and well cared for while they work so that they can be fully attentive to the jobs that support their families.

The Legislative Children’s Caucus, founded by Sen. Millett and Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, was created to advocate for public investments in early childhood (infancy through age 8) and to educate their fellow legislators and the public about the benefit of those investments. The caucus will also create, revise and pass legislation to address needs in early childhood education and care.

Media is welcome to attend the Caucus. A brief media availability with Sen. Millett and the Caucus’s guests will held immediately following the meeting.

WHAT: Legislative Children’s Caucus meeting

WHO: Sen. Rebecca Millett, Rep. Matt Pouliot, Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Bill Libby, Sheriff Troy Morton, Ed Cervone.

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 6.

WHERE: Room 202, Cross Office Building, Augusta.