First4 AmeriCorps Program, an initiative of KVCAP/Educare Central Maine
Primary Contact: Abbie Giallombardo
Address: Educare Central Maine
56 Drummond Ave
Waterville, ME 04901
Phone: (207) 861-2190
According to the Maine Kids Count Data, Maine has the highest rate of children diagnosed with anxiety, the third highest rate for children diagnosed with depression, and 22.5% of children under 18 have experienced two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs is a term used to describe the various forms of abuse, neglect, and traumatic experiences that children under 18 face. When young children are faced with such disadvantages early in life, their ability to learn and be successful in school are severely impacted. However, with resilience, children can triumph over trauma and adversity. The goal of the First4 AmeriCorps program is to boost resiliency and reduce overall toxic stress early in childhood because we know that approximately 80% of brain development happens in the first four years of life.
First4 Classroom Support Members (CSMs) will be trained to provide additional classroom support to strengthen existing trauma-informed care and to implement social-emotional strategies in classrooms for children six (6) weeks to five (5) years of age. First4 CSMs’ direct support in childcare and preschool settings will lower the adult-to-child ratio, thus increasing teaching staff’s capacity to deliver high quality curriculum and focus more on skills and school readiness.
One of First4’s guiding principles is that well-trained and well-supported staff and Members are the key to program quality, so Members will receive training and professional development to better understand concepts such as child development, poverty, ACEs, and trauma-informed teaching. Additionally, as a means of sustainability for such a profound and important undertaking, First4 CSMs will also participate in the recruitment of volunteers as well as the creation of a legacy document to refine the onboarding process for future volunteers and AmeriCorps Members.