Our Partner Educare Central Maine


What is Educare Central Maine?

Educare Central Maine (ECM) is a state-of-the-art early learning center located in Waterville, Maine that integrates Head Start, quality child care and public preschool service into one comprehensive program and family support system. Learning at ECM is designed to support each child’s unique social, emotional and cognitive development and to prepare children to enter kindergarten engaged, healthy and ready to succeed. Parent participation is critical; children and families enrolled at ECM receive an array of early childhood development, health, mental health, nutritional and family support services. In order to meet the nationally-recognized Educare model requirements for quality, lead classroom teachers hold bachelor degrees and receive coach/mentoring support from a master level teacher.

maine-connection-buildingEducare Central Maine operates year-round and serves over 200 children ages 6 weeks to five years, most of whom are low-income and Early/Head Start eligible. ECM’s child assessments in vocabulary and reading comprehension, skills attributed to school success, have met and/or exceeded school readiness measures. ECM ranks in the top tier of rating scales in emotional support for children and classroom organization. The first class that moved into kindergarten scored 97.3 on the Bracken School Readiness Assessment (average score 86-114, with 100 being the mean). The facility is co-located with George J. Mitchell Elementary School (GJMS) which offers an education continuum from birth through grade 3, with natural transitions from infant/toddler to preschool to kindergarten and elementary school at GJMS. Parents engaged at the preschool level continue to stay involved through the school years.

Educare is a Platform for Long Term Policy

maine-connection-children-readingChangeScience and research reveal that early education is critical to later school success, especially for children living in poverty. Yet, public policies and funding priorities often lag behind. In states across the country, Educare centers help strengthen public investments in high-quality, research-based programs by sharing expertise statewide. Educare is a platform for long-term policy change, offering a way for policy makers and other opinion leaders to see examples of quality early learning environments that all children deserve, specifically children at risk of school failure. The Educare model is designed to bring to bear the best research and evaluation for short and long-term quality assurance, serve as a state and regional replication model program for meeting the highest level of quality programming for children and families, and inspire local, state, and national leaders to change policy to impact positive child and family outcomes.

Why the link to Elevate Maine?

maine-connection-elevate-maineElevate Maine’s objectives are to elevate early education to the highest in standards and practice, to elevate student achievement for optimal success in school and beyond and to elevate the quality of Maine’s workforce. In an effort to raise public awareness about the importance of early childhood development, strengthen the skills of parents and early childhood educators, and help low-income families’ access high quality early care and education, the Maine Early Learning Investment Group (MELIG) has selected Educare Central Maine (ECM) as the primary implementation partner for the Elevate Maine initiative. ECM will engage numerous community partners in this initiative. Like all states with Educare facilities, ECM serves as a demonstration site and model for the highest quality teaching and instruction. The goal is not to construct a new center in every Maine community, but rather to replicate elements of Educare’s best practices across the state, regardless of learning environment. ECM is designed to serve as a state-of-the-art professional development and resource center for child care professionals. It works closely with institutions of higher education to provide hands on learning opportunities for students seeking a degree in early childhood and offers multiple opportunities for parents, staff, college students and practitioners to observe and participate in high quality early childhood innovations in practice.

Introducing Educare Central Maine (ECM) Governance Board

Laurie Lachance

“I’ve spent my entire work life, almost 30 years, working in the field of analyzing and forecasting Maine’s economy-trying to understand the factors and levers that we could use to help Maine prosper. The single greatest thing we can do is to raise the potential and the educational skills of the workforce. We’re finding as we look back over the course of a student’s life to when they enter our K-12 system, they’re not ready-and we spend multi-millions of dollars every single year in remediation (from five percent of our state budgets to almost 15%). About two-thirds of all of the state expenditures go towards K-12 education, an average of about 60% of our local tax dollars, yet we’re not producing the workforce we need. Something’s wrong, and it’s because we’re not starting early enough. If you want a child to succeed in the K-12 system and later in college, you have to start earlier-in the first three years of life.”
Laurie Lachance, Chairperson, ECM President
Thomas College
Waterville, ME 04901

Laurie Lachance was recently appointed President of Thomas College. For the past eight years, Laurie served as the President and CEO of the Maine Development Foundation (MDF). MDF supports a high quality of life for all Maine people by empowering leaders, strengthening communities, and guiding public policy. The Foundation’s flagship programs include Leadership Maine, Policy Leaders Academy, the Maine Downtown Center, the Maine Employers’ Initiative, and the Maine Economic Growth Council. Prior to MDF, Laurie served as the Maine State Economist for eleven years for three governors. In that capacity, she chaired the Maine State Revenue Forecasting Commission, and served as lead or co-lead on utility restructuring, telecommunications, the retirement industry, and tax reform. Prior to joining state government, Laurie served as the Corporate Economist at Central Maine Power Company. Laurie holds an undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College and an MBA from Thomas College ’92.


William Alfond

“Joni and I were motivated to make Educare a reality here in Maine for one compelling reason: Who could ignore the evidence that too many of Maine’s children are entering the K-12 system behind in their ability to learn their colors and their letters? Every Maine child should enter Kindergarten on a level playing field.”
William (Bill) Alfond, President
William and Joan Alfond Foundation
Waterville, ME

Bill Alfond served as a senior executive at Dexter Shoe Company, where he was president of the bowling shoe division. He currently serves as a director of Dexter Enterprises, Inc., a director of Olly Shoe in Canada, and is a limited partner in the Boston Red Sox. With his wife, Joan, Bill created the William and Joan Alfond Foundation in 1986. The Foundation, of which Mr. Alfond is president, supports educational, healthcare, and other charitable institutions in Maine and Massachusetts. He serves on multiple boards of community and educational organizations, including the USA Biathlon Committee, Educare Central Maine, and his alma maters the Governor’s Academy and Colby College. Bill and Joan have three adult children and three grandchildren all under the age of five.


Mike Burke

“With every year the evidence coming out of all Educare Centers will grow stronger and stronger and Maine is already surpassing the aggregate child, parent and teacher outcomes. We are impressed by Educare Central Maine and MELIG partners to work outside of silos and roll up their sleeves through this unique partnership. Elevate Maine brings enormous potential for impacting early education reform through national conversation. I only wish the Network of Educare Centers had 10 more public/private partnerships just like it today. Every day that we fail to provide our most impoverished children with quality early learning opportunities, we deny human potential.”
Mike Burke, Vice President
Buffett Early Childhood Fund
Omaha, NE

Michael Burke is Vice President of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, which invests in public education where America is most under- invested: the first five years of life and learning. Mike has more than 30 years of experience in politics, public relations and philanthropy. He helps the foundation execute its pan-philanthropic strategy to invest in early childhood practice, policy and research, in Nebraska and throughout the United States. In part, the foundation works to: (1) create and sustain a nationwide network of well-implemented, well-evaluated Educare schools; (2) better inform state and federal public policy decision-making through the Birth to Five Policy Alliance and the First Five Years Fund; and (3) deepen society’s knowledge and understanding of the science of early childhood. Before joining the Buffett Early Childhood Fund in January 2007, Mike oversaw public affairs and communications for several children’s organizations, including: Ounce of Prevention Fund, Voices for Illinois Children, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Kathy Colfer

“This Elevate Maine partnership is helping Educare Central Maine keep the promise we made to the state when Waterville was awarded the Educare demonstration site: to make it benefit all of Maine’s children. This partnership is about keeping that promise.”
Kathy Colfer, Director
Child and Family Services, Kennebec County Community Action Program
Waterville, Maine

Kathryn Colfer is the Director of Child & Family Services at Kennebec Valley Community Action Program (KVCAP) and oversees Educare Central Maine’s operations. Kathy has worked in the field of Early Childhood Education for the past 15 years, directing services for children, parent/family members, and staff as a trainer, facilitator, and administrator. With a strong administration and financial background, she has designed, developed, and implemented programs for children and families in both the private non-profit sector and the public sector and has worked in program and personnel management capacity for over 28 years. Currently she administers a program encompassing 102 staff, physical facilities in 19 locations throughout Somerset and northern Kennebec Counties. Kathy has an ongoing commitment to quality programming for children, parent/family members, and staff within an environment that nurtures positive change and growth. Kathy is also works closely with state systems administrators, the Board of Directors of Educare Central Maine Policy Council parents and KVCAP’s Board of Directors. Kathy maintains critical leadership participation within Maine’s service provider community statewide, such as: Shared Services Collaborative, the Maine Head Start Directors, Child Care Advisory Council, the Maine’s Early Learning Advisory Council, and the Maine Children’s Growth Council.


Eric Haley

“If we don’t have effective interventions before students enter kindergarten, we will never make a difference with older students. Compared to my early years as a teacher, I see more children coming into the K-12 systems not ready socially and cognitively not ready to learn what school has to offer. When I see a group of young students, who can’t hold a book right side up in kindergarten, it tells me we are not starting early enough. With 90 percent accuracy, second grade teachers can pick out which children will be high school dropouts.”
Eric Haley, Superintendant
Waterville, ME

Eric Haley currently serves as Superintendent of AOS 92, the consolidated administrative unit to include Waterville, Winslow and Vassalboro schools in addition to serving as superintendent of Waterville Public Schools, the home of Educare Central Maine. Eric started his education career in 1978 as a math and computer science teacher in Dexter, Maine (SAD46) until he became assistant principal and then principal of Waterville Public Schools in 1985 and 1990 respectively. Eric has engaged in local, state and national educational leadership to include among others, the Maine Principal’s Association, New England Association of Supervision and Evaluation, National Association of Secondary School Principals, the United Way of Mid-Maine and others. He received a Certificate of Administrative Studies in Educational Leadership, a Masters in Educational Administration from the University of Maine, and his Bachelors of Science from Tufts University.