Young Children

A child’s earliest years are critical for their future success and lay the foundation for everything from academic and career achievement to health and wellness to maintaining healthy personal relationships.

But too many disadvantaged children in Maine come to school without the skills they need to thrive.  Some hear too few words as babies and toddlers, setting them up for challenges in school. We know, for example, that a child’s vocabulary as early as age three can predict third-grade reading achievement, a critical indicator of future academic success.  Others lack quality early childhood experiences and struggle with unmet health needs, poor nutrition, language barriers and other obstacles.

At the John T. Gorman Foundation, we believe that advancing the academic achievement of Maine's youngest children is one of the most effective ways of ensuring their long-term success as adults.

Where we are and where we need to be

We need to do more to put Maine’s youngest children on the right path. Consider:

  • Statewide, only 36 percent of Maine's four-year-olds are enrolled in public pre-K.
  • Reading scores have been flat or declining since 1994, when Maine led the nation.
  • Less than a third of children eligible for Head Start are enrolled, largely because there aren’t enough slots.
  • Of the 2,008 licensed child care centers in Maine, less than 10 percent meet the state’s highest quality rating standards.

Through our work with partners, we hope to see more disadvantaged Maine children:

  • Participating in high quality early learning experiences
  • Arriving at school healthy and with the skills they need to succeed
  • Reading proficiently by the end of 3rd grade

How we do our work

The Foundation partners with communities, schools, advocates, early childhood education providers and others to ensure that more Maine children get the quality experiences they need to meet critical milestones associated with long-term academic success. This includes supporting parents’ efforts to become their children’s first teachers and best advocates.

Some of the areas we focus on include:

  • Partnering with community-based collaborations to increase 3rd-grade reading proficiency
  • Supporting school districts and community-based organizations to implement programs that address summer learning loss
  • Working with local organizations and providers to increase child care quality and access to important prevention programs and supports

Read more about The John T. Gorman's focus on young children here.

Young Children Resources

Maine Kids Count Data Book

Maine Kids Count Data Book

Since 1994, the Maine KIDS COUNT project has published the annual Maine KIDS COUNT Data Book using the most recent data available on the well-being of children in the areas of physical and emotional health, social and economic status, and child care and education View Resource


The KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual publication from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that assesses child well-being nationally and across the 50 states, as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Using an index of 16 indicators, the report ranks states on overall child well-being and in economic well-being, education, health and family and community. View Resource
National Campaign for Grade Level Reading

National Campaign for Grade Level Reading

The Campaign is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on an important predictor of school success and high school graduation — grade-level reading by the end of third grade. View Resource

National Association for the Education of Young Children

National Association for the Education of Young Children

NAEYC promotes high-quality early learning for all children, birth through age 8, by connecting practice, policy, and research. We advance a diverse, dynamic early childhood profession and support all who care for, educate, and work on behalf of young children. View Resource
Child Poverty and Adult Success

Child Poverty and Adult Success

One in every five children currently lives in poverty, but nearly twice as many experience poverty sometime during childhood. Using 40 years of data, this analysis follows children from birth to age 17, then through their 20s, to examine how childhood poverty and family and neighborhood characteristics relate to achievement in young adulthood, such as completing high school by age 20, enrolling in postsecondary education by age 25, completing a four-year college degree by age 25, and being consistently employed from ages 25 to 30. Parents’ education achievement, residential stability, and neighborhood quality all relate to adult success. View Resource
The National Summer Learning Association

The National Summer Learning Association

The National Summer Learning Association is the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on closing the achievement gap by increasing access to high-quality summer learning opportunities. NSLA recognizes and disseminates what works in summer learning, develops and delivers capacity-building offerings and convenes and empowers key actors to embrace summer learning as a solution for equity and excellence in education. View Resource

View all Young Children Resources


Recent Grants

Count ME In, Portland $200,000 to enhance its efforts to increase attendance for chronically absent elementary students.

Lewiston Public Schools, Lewiston $99,000 to implement an Integrated System of Supports approach at Montello School as part of the Lewiston Campaign for Grade Level Reading, integrating school and community interventions to help children succeed in school.

Alfond Youth Center, Waterville $44,600 in support of summer programming at the Bangor Chapter of the Boys and Girls Clubs.


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