Issues

Child Abuse and Neglect

  • In 2012, 3,781 Maine children were victims of child abuse and neglect.
  • Child abuse and neglect costs America $124 billion a year and contributes to poverty, crime, and alcohol and drug abuse.
  • For every dollar spent by the federal government in subsidies for the out-of-home placement of children, 14 cents is spent on prevention and protective services.
  • From 2007 to 2011, Congress cut federal funding to states to treat and protect abused and neglected children by 17.5%.
  • Only 2,375 Maine families used Home Visiting in 2011, a program proven to help reduce child abuse and neglect.
  • Despite receiving some federal support, Maine lost $7,390,406 in General Funds in FY11.

The Solutions

Home visits help reduce child abuse and helps the economy- Over time, improvements in birth outcomes, maternal and child health, and reductions in child abuse and neglect, poverty and crime can return as much as $5.70 per taxpayer dollar invested.

Maine Families’ Home Visiting Program is a preventive program that provides health, education, support and linkages to other community services for mothers, fathers, families, pregnant women, infants and children in their homes. Sixteen community-based MFHV programs across the state (in each county) serve over 2,000 families per year. Together families and home visitors talk about concerns such as stopping smoking, depression and access to reproductive healthcare. Families get support in their roles as their child’s first and best teacher and learn ways to help their child grow and learn.

These sixteen community-based agencies across Maine provide MFHV services to mothers, fathers, pregnant women, infants and children throughout the state of Maine.

Particular emphasis is placed on:

  • Adolescents who are pregnant or are new moms
  • Women under age 25 who are pregnant or are new moms
  • Women pregnant with their first child
  • Women at risk for having problems during their pregnancy
  • Pregnant women or mothers with substance abuse problems
  • Families at risk for child abuse and neglect

Children’s Health

While the recently enacted comprehensive health reform bill will ensure that most children and youth receive timely and comprehensive medical attention, those children covered under Medicaid may be at risk if states’ budget problems continue.

  • In 2011, 107,500 children received some form of government funded health care and 15,900 were uninsured.
  • As a result of the health care reform bill, those under the age of 26 can remain on their parent’s health insurance, and insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
  • The Affordable Care Act does require coverage for basic pediatric services, including oral health, but 62.9% of children enrolled in Medicaid in Maine do not receive dental care.

The Solutions

  • ensure that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program – the programs that serve low-income children – work better for kids and for providers so that insurance coverage translates into real access to needed care
  • expand sealant programs for kids who need them most
  • help expand access to optimally fluoridated water
  • expand the number of professionals who can provide dental care to low-income children

Early Care and Education

Millions of infants, toddlers, and young children lack access to affordable, high-quality early education opportunities.

  • High-quality early eduction increases a child’s chances of success in school and in life. Children who attend are less likely to be held back a grade or need special education. They have higher earnings as adults and are less likely to commit crime.
  • Nearly 50 % of all kindergarten teachers report that at least half of their students come to school with problems that hinder their success.
  • In 2012 only 32% of four year olds were enrolled in some sort of Pre-K. 
  • 37,749 Maine children under age 6 have mothers in the workforce.
  • Full time child care workers make about $21,290 a year, while the state average is about $40,860
  • Average child care costs in Maine are $4,768 for school-aged children (before/after school care) and $9,256 for infants in full time care in a child care center.
  • Toddlers who receive quality care have fewer behavioral problems and score higher on math and reading tests than children who attended low quality care.
  • Only 11% of Maine’s child care centers are accredited.
  • In Maine, Head Start serves only 29.8% of eligible children, age birth to five years and their families.
  • Maine is one of sixteen states that provides General Funds for Head Start. In 2011, $28,548,027 was received in Federal Head Start funds and $3,803,445 was contributed from the State of Maine General Fund. 

The Solutions

  • Pre-Kindergarten Education Programs Lead to Better Future Educational Performance – Low-income children who attend pre-school programs perform at higher levels than those who do not. Children attending high-quality programs had one or more of the following outcomes: lower special education rates, lower grade retention rates, higher achievement test scores, higher high school graduation rates, and higher post secondary enrollment rates.
  • Pre-Kindergarten Education Programs Help the Economy Thrive – The average benefits from a universally accessible pre-school education program at ages 3 and 4 are estimated to be at least $25,000 per child, substantially more than the costs. The estimated cost- per-child (mixing half day, school day, and full day programs) is $8-$17K for two years.
  • High quality early learning opportunities are one of the most cost effective ways to improve children’s education, health, and economic outcomes, providing nearly a $7 return for every $1 spent. 

After-School Programs

Millions of children and youth who are in unsupervised situations at the end of each school day would benefit from participation in quality after-school programs, where learning continues in a safe, supervised environment.

  • There are a total of 37,749 working mothers with any children under the age of 6 in the state of Maine, and 60% of these working mothers, (22,631), have only children under the age of 6 that need child care.

  • 69,408 of Maine’s school children are left alone and unsupervised in the hours after school.

  • On school days, the hours from 3-6 PM are peak hours for:
  • kids to smoke, drink, do drugs, and engage in sex,
  • innocent kids to become crime victims,
  • 16 and 17 year olds to be in a car crash,
  • teens to commit crimes.

 

The Solutions