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Maine Allies Win New Mental Health Program Pilot to Reduce Early Childhood Suspensions and Expulsions

The legislative Children’s Caucus continued in the 2019 Maine legislative session, giving lawmakers an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of issues in early childhood, through guest speakers who are experts in early childhood areas of health and well-being. Through the caucus, legislators can acquire the best data and information to inform their consideration of early childhood bills that come before them in the Legislature.

Through the Right From the Start coalition, Maine Children’s Alliance worked closely and intently on several bills relating to early childhood care and education. One of the group’s most significant accomplishments in this area was the passage of legislation which will create a statewide voluntary early childhood mental health consultation program.

Through this work, educators and providers can get support to help children with challenging behaviors develop the skills they need to manage their feelings and behaviors in better ways, leading to their ability to remain in the classroom, and resulting in improved long-term academic and professional outcomes. A bill to convene a stakeholder group to determine the state’s capacity to provide early and period screening, diagnostic and treatment services (EPSDT) also passed.

This win is the result of years of policy advocacy work and partnerships in Maine. 

This session also saw the reinstatement and convening of the Children’s Cabinet – a good sign of a desire by leadership for collaboration and a cross-systems approach to policy and practice affecting children in our state. This body was further strengthened by the passage of legislation implementing a special early childhood advisory council to the Cabinet.

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