What’s Ahead for Quality for ME?

Maine’s 128th Legislature charged the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop and then report on a plan to increase the number of programs participating with Quality for ME, Maine’s quality rating and improvement system, at Steps 3 and 4.
Here is the legislative charge completed with Committee Amendment:
LD 383 – An Act To Increase Access to Child Care
It starts with a title change to:
‘Resolve, Directing the Department of Health and Human Services To Develop a Plan To Strengthen the Quality and Supply of Child Care Services’
It then strikes out everything else and replaces it with:
‘Sec. 1. Department of Health and Human Services to develop child care provider plan.
Resolved: That the Department of Health and Human Services shall develop a plan for increasing the number of child care providers participating in step 3 and step 4 of the child care quality rating system developed pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 22, section 3737, subsection 3 and the graduated quality differential rates of reimbursement for those providers. The department shall consult with stakeholders as it develops the plan, including those groups involved with the contract for the Quality for ME Revision Project. In developing the plan the department shall:
1. Determine if sufficient funding is available under the federal child care and development fund block grant to be used to support additional reimbursement based on quality;
2. Develop incentives for child care providers to attain step 3 and step 4 ratings, including reimbursement differentials, grant programs, contracts, professional development, child care and educational training programs and increased infant and toddler care, while balancing the regulatory requirements and needs of the entire child care system;
3. Take into account the geographic differences in the State so that parents in all 33 areas have access to child care providers at step 3 and step 4;
4. Develop definitions of “disabilities” and “special needs” for infants and toddlers to be used in quality standards;
5. Determine if the federal statutory and regulatory framework allows the differential plan being developed and if changes are required in the state child care and development fund plan to align with the differential plan;
6. Determine any state statutory or regulatory barriers to increasing the supply and quality of child care; and
7. Provide data on the existing numbers of children in need of care; child care providers by type, step on the child care quality rating system, geography, number of children currently served and capacity; and any other relevant factors; and be it further
Sec. 2. Report. Resolved: That the Department of Health and Human Services shall report its findings and statutory recommendations pursuant to section 1 no later than January 30, 2019 to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over health and human services matters. The joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over health and human services matters may report out legislation based on the findings of the report to the First Regular Session of the 129th Legislature.’
As a first task in creating the plan, DHHS and Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network (MRTQ PDN) have partnered to gather feedback from programs that have already reached Steps 3 and 4. Step 3 and 4 programs were invited to attend a stakeholder’s webinar the afternoon of 12/14 to provide information/feedback on:
  • Why they have chosen to pursue and/or maintain the higher Steps.
  • Benefits of obtaining a higher Step and what DHHS might consider as additional incentives.
  • The challenges programs overcome to reach the higher Steps.

For Step 3 and 4 programs unable to attend the webinar a survey with questions covering the same information has been sent.

In discussions with providers FCCAM has heard there are providers from all Step levels that would like to provide information on Quality for ME. Members of our Board attending the webinar raised this concern. Information was provided that there will be future opportunities for additional input from stakeholders. If as a stakeholder you want to add your voice on the 3 goals listed above, FCCAM encourages you to send your thoughts to:

Crystal Arbour
Child Care Services Program Manager
207-626-8683
2 Anthony Ave.
11 SHS
Augusta, ME 04333
crystal.arbour@maine.gov