The Maine community foundation's annual invest in Maine summit is focusing on them and what they mean to our state.
State leaders gathered in Bangor to focus on children. They stress the importance of early education because they believe children are the key to building a strong workforce for the state of Maine.
President and CEO of Gorms savings bank Chris Emmons said "Having well trained and qualified employees for the future is going to be critical."
Officials say there are cycles of poverty in Maine and there are rural parts of the state where kids have trouble accessing quality early education.
"We want to change that and so this is one of many steps that will help enlighten people as to what's going on" said Emmons.
President of Thomas College Laurie Lachance said "Low income families the children enter school and only 45% of them are ready to begin kindergarten. Whereas children who grow up in wealthier families 75% of them are ready to start learning. So we have got to close that gap."
Officials at the summit say 85 to 90% of the brain is developed before the age of five. If we wait until the age of five to invest in our child it's almost to late. You're then trying to catch up to the lack of opportunities for them to learn and grow.
"if you want education to be successful you have to start a lot earlier when that brain is developing. We have to come to grips with the fact that we can't let anybody slip through the cracks, and the way to get at that is to start earlier to give them the opportunity to unleash their own potential" said Lachance.
Officials say in a knowledge based technology driven economy a high school degree is critical, but not sufficient to ensure a decent standard of living.
"About a third of our adults have a higher education. So there has got to be a big shift and it's got to happen fairly quickly" said Lachance.