Young students work on a number-learning activity.Early Childhood Education

Many of a child's formative educational experiences take place before he or she steps into a kindergarten classroom. After all, the research shows that 85 percent of brain development happens before age five.

For parents, that means one of the first big decisions is selecting the right early learning experience for their child. The Maine Department of Education and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) partner to oversee an array of early learning experiences that prepare children to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

  • Choosing Child Care. Maine DHHS offers parents tips on choosing the right child care and early learning arrangements for their children.
  • Public Preschool. A growing number of Maine's public schools are offering public preschool programs, introducing young learners to the school environment before they begin kindergarten.
  • Child Development Services (CDS). CDS provides early intervention and special education services to children with disabilities from birth to age five. The CDS system consists of nine regional sites that provide services directly or arrange for the provision of services to children in their respective regions.
  • Early Learning in Maine. Maine DOE and DHHS have laid the groundwork for coordinated management of the variety of early learning and development programs they oversee through the State Agency Interdepartmental Early Learning team (SAIEL).
  • Head Start. Head Start, administered in Maine by DHHS, offers early childhood education for young children whose families meet federal poverty guidelines.
  • Maine Children's Growth Council. The Children's Growth Council is a State body working with policymakers, parents, educators, community leaders and others to build a unified state system for providing early learning services.
  • Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge. Maine's application for the federal Race to the Top Early Learning grant articulates a blueprint for the future of early learning in Maine.