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early childhood, childhood development, child care, developmental screenings, FFN care


The purpose of this project was to ascertain a more detailed understanding of parents’ views on developmental screenings and family, friend, and neighbor care1 for young children from immigrant, refugee, and/or asylee2 communities that speak either Arabic, French, or Somali in Portland, Maine3 with the intention of informing future strategies that can be implemented by the Cumberland County Developmental Screening Community Initiative (DSCI) and Starting Strong, the early childhood initiative that is a part of Portland ConnectED.

Through a collaborative process, Starting Strong, DSCI, the Data Innovation Project (DIP), and Maine Immigrant Access Network (MAIN) sought to address two distinct research questions: one for the DSCI specific to parents’ views on developmental screenings and one for Starting Strong specific to parents’ perspectives and use of family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) care. The findings and recommendations from this project are intended to support the shared goals of both groups that all children experience culturally appropriate and relevant developmental screenings and have equitable access to high quality early child care in culturally appropriate ways, which puts them on the pathway to kindergarten readiness and third grade reading proficiency.

This report provides a synthesis of this qualitative study – interviews conducted by Community Health Workers (CHWs) from MAIN and focus groups conducted by DIP staff. The following sections describe the data collection methodology for the project, key findings, recommendations, and discuss opportunities for further research.


1 Family, friend, and neighbor care is defined as: any regular, non-parental care other than a licensed center, program, or family child care home. FFN care includes relatives, friends, neighbors, and other adults not required to be licensed by the state of Maine to provide child care.

2 For the purposes of this project, the term asylee includes both those who are seeking asylum and those who have already been granted asylum status.

3 The original focus of this research was to look specifically at the neighborhoods of East Bayside and Riverton, however due to recruitment challenges because of Covid-19, the area of recruitment was expanded to Portland. When possible, Community Health Workers recruited participants from East Bayside and Riverton.

Funding Organization

This report was developed for Starting Strong and MaineHealth – Cumberland County Developmental Screening Community Initiative by the Data Innovation Project and Main Access Immigrant Network.



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