Giving Children a Strong Start

Ensuring that children meet key developmental and educational milestones is a priority issue for United Way and our community. Kids who start strong finish strong. By investing in early education for our youngest children, we are laying the foundation for later success in school and life. Long-term benefits include reductions in grade retention; reduced crime and delinquency; increased graduation rates; and increased adult economic success.

Early Intervention

EarlyIntervention

85% of a child’s brain development takes place by the age of 5. United Way funds early screening, diagnosis, and a full range of pediatric therapies for babies and children, providing essential preventative and corrective care at a critical stage in early childhood development.

Home Health Visiting Nurses of Southern Maine Parent /Child Health Program

Home Health Visiting Nurses of Southern Maine Parent /Child Health Program reduces the incidences and effects of disease and disability in mothers, infants, and children through home visits and well-child clinics throughout the county. Provides skilled nursing care for acutely or chronically ill children, childbirth education, and prenatal and postpartum health supervision. Reinforces links with local physicians and community resources.

Northeast Hearing & Speech Center

Northeast Hearing & Speech Center offers evaluation and therapy for hearing and speech problems. Services include determining the presence, degree, severity and kinds of hearing loss and speech/language problems for clients who are typically preschoolers (aged 2-5) and older adults. Therapy for hearing problems includes habilitation and rehabilitation to increase the client’s ability to learn and to function in daily life. Therapy for speech problems includes habilitation and rehabilitation services for articulation, voice, language, and fluency.

Starting Strong

Starting Strong is the early age component of Portland ConnectED, a cradle to career initiative whose goal is that all young people graduate from high school and successfully transition to their next step. With a focus on birth to age 8, Starting Strong’s top priority is to help children reach reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade, a critical benchmark  in assuring student success. Learn more about how you can get involved.

The Opportunity Alliance Programs

  • Maine Families offers new parents the support of a home visitor. The program on Portland’s East End provides support and education around parenting and child development, as well as a link to other community resources.
  • Young Parenting Program is a licensed mental health program, offers a wide range of supportive services to families including high-risk pregnant and parenting teens and their children. Ensures adequate pre- and post-natal care and information, infant and toddler child care, peer support systems, and childbirth and parenting education.

For every dollar invested in quality early childhood education today, the return is up to $17 back into the community in saved special education costs, lower crime, increased earnings and taxes paid.

Quality Early Learning in Inclusive Environments

High quality early learning programs improve developmental outcomes for children. United Way-funded early childhood centers provide inclusive programming for children of all abilities and are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Catherine Morrill Day Nursery

Catherine Morrill Day Nursery, the oldest child care center in Maine, provides care for children ages 6 weeks – 5 years from all socio-economic levels. Over half of the children receive subsidized care. Provides developmental child care programs based on children’s needs and interests, and supports the needs of families. Offers families emotional support and help with parenting issues.

Morrison Center

Morrison Center offers educational programs, therapy, vocational training and recreation for multi-physically handicapped children and adults. Provides an academic/therapeutic environment which utilizes a team approach to treat the client and family. United Way funds services for school-age and preschool children.

The Opportunity Alliance Child and Family Services

The Opportunity Alliance Child and Family Services provides care to preschool and school-aged children from families with low-income in 17 centers throughout Cumberland County. Provides nurturing care, developmentally appropriate educational activities, and a full meal program. Offers parents access to counseling and other support services, parenting and family life education programs, parents’ groups, and family social/recreational activities. Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Peaks Island Children’s Workshop

Peaks Island Children’s Workshop Child Care Program provides full-time and part-time year round care to children aged 3-6; 90% of the children come from families struggling with low income. The integrated age group setting is designed to meet the developmental needs of children and their families. Communication with the parents and with the community at large is a vital part of the program. 

Starting Strong

  • Starting Strong is the early age component of Portland ConnectED, a cradle to career initiative whose goal is that all young people graduate from high school and successfully transition to their next step. With a focus on birth to age 8, Starting Strong’s top priority is to help children reach reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade, a critical benchmark  in assuring student success.Learn more about how you can get involved.

St. Elizabeth’s Child Development Center

Catholic Charities Maine St. Elizabeth’s Child Development Center provides developmentally appropriate child care to children aged 15 months to 5 years. Committed to serving both low-income and non-low-income children in an inclusive environment that is individualized to meet each child’s needs. The program advocates for the child and places the welfare of children and families at the foundation of all its activities. Parental involvement is a cornerstone of all programs.

Youth and Family Outreach

Youth and Family Outreach has provided early care and education services to Portland’s most under-resourced families since 1986. Teaching staff speak a variety of languages making inclusion of Portland’s new Americans a little more seamless. This NAEYC-accredited environment provides care to children ages six weeks to five years with a public pre-k classroom for Portland 4-year-olds. Youth and Family Outreach approaches Early Learning by supporting the whole family and partnering with parents to provide the best foundation possible for their children. The nutrition program at Youth and Family Outreach offers three home-cooked meals per day – made from scratch with whole ingredients and 80% of the ingredients are sourced locally.

Girl Painting

Kindergarten Readiness

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By the time a child enters kindergarten, he or she should be able to write his or her name, identify shapes and colors, and follow simple instructions. Children who enter kindergarten lacking these basic skills start off academically and socially behind their peers.

Kindergarten Jump Start

As part of the Westbrook Children’s Project, children are referred to Jump Start based on risk factors identified during their kindergarten screening, as well as those who have little to no formal pre-K schooling. The program focuses on early literacy including (1) alphabetic and phonics concepts and (2) skills and reading comprehension that are fundamental to learning to read and write. Teachers design instruction that includes reading aloud, choral reading, kinesthetic activities, motor games, and other activities that focus on helping students meet entry benchmarks for kindergarten. The inaugural class served 34 students. All students showed progress in one or both letter and sound identification, 78% met the fall kindergarten proficiency benchmark in letter identification and 82% met the fall kindergarten benchmark in letter sounds, important indicators of future academic success.

Literacy Kits

Having books, supplies, and literacy games to use and play with during the summer better prepares children to enter kindergarten ready to read. It also provides an opportunity for parents to become more engaged with their child’s learning and school readiness with at-home play. For the past two years, United Way of Greater Portland partnered with Ruth’s Reusable Resources to secure items and create literacy kits for incoming kindergartners in Westbrook and Portland. School staff distributed and reviewed the contents of the kits with incoming students and their families during kindergarten screenings and orientations.

Starting Strong

Starting Strong is the early age component of Portland ConnectED, a cradle to career initiative whose goal is that all young people graduate from high school and successfully transition to their next step. With a focus on birth to age 8, Starting Strong’s top priority is to help children reach reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade, a critical benchmark  in assuring student success. Learn more about how you can get involved.

YMCA – Fathers Support Program

YMCA Fathers Support Program provides individual and group support to young fathers to promote good parenting skills and involvement with their families through father-child activities.

Get Involved!