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State, County groups plan discussion on child poverty

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — On Monday, Nov. 27, at the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Campus Center, community organizations and the public are invited to come together to host a follow-up conversation that began in March focusing on the future of Aroostook County and how to solve childhood poverty in the region.

The public is encouraged to join in the forum, “Continuing the Conversation – Invest in Tomorrow: Solving Child Poverty is Everyone’s Business,” which will begin at 2:30 p.m. that day.

This is the second such forum to discuss what can be done to improve the future of Maine children and communities. The first discussion in March featured the release of Aroostook County Action Program’s Community Assessment. ACAP used the assessment to develop its 2018-2021 strategic plan, copies of which will be available at the forum.

“We learned a lot at the community forums last spring and we want to continue to engage these communities in this work. We are inviting people to come back together and keep working with us to create more opportunity for kids and families,” said Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners.

“Based on lessons learned at the forums, additional input from stakeholders, and data, a working group will develop a set of recommendations to address the primary factors that contribute to child poverty and present these recommendations to a broader stakeholder group for their consideration,” she said.

Ten state and local organizations will present the forum: Maine State Chamber of Commerce; John T. Gorman Foundation; Maine Children’s Alliance; Maine Community Action Association; Maine Community Foundation; Maine Equal Justice Partners; Aroostook County Action Program; Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce; Northeastern Workforce Development Board; and United Way of Aroostook.   

Three other regions of the state held similar forums last spring and plan follow-up sessions over the next several weeks.

“One of the key areas identified in our new strategic plan is to engage the community in a more comprehensive conversation around the causes and conditions of poverty. It was clear from the focus groups we brought together a year ago to provide input in our community assessment, that there are many misperceptions,” said Jason Parent, executive director/CEO of ACAP.

“This second forum will further our conversation and begin to address what we can do collectively to positively impact the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, especially children.”

The public is encouraged to participate in the forum. Financial assistance is available for child care and transportation for those for whom cost is a barrier.

For more information, contact Gloria Duncan at ACAP at (207) 764-3721 or gduncan@acap-me.org.

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