“The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program provides resources to state, territory, and tribal grantees that enable low-income parents to work or pursue education and training so that they can better support their families while at the same time promoting the learning and development of their children.” Providers know this as the Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP), but the CCDF is about more than just subsidy.
The CCDF program also provides funding to enhance the quality of child care for all children, thus impacting all providers in Maine.
The CCDF Plan is how Maine applies for CCDF funding. It’s how the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) determines state compliance with the requirements of the law and rule. The CCDF Plan allows states to describe their implementation of the CCDF program. As small business owners it’s important that we are aware of the programs that impact us and the valuable service we provide to children and their families. A draft of the CCDF plan for the period of October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2024 is being presented by DHHS/OCFS to the public for review and comment. “The purpose of this hearing is to seek public and provider input and comment on the draft plan for the provision of child care services funded by the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). The State Plan describes Maine’s plan to support the State’s child care infrastructure and comply with federal requirements of the CCDF Act of 1990.”
Public Hearing: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at 12 p.m. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this hearing will be conducted via Zoom. Registration required.
Written comments on the draft may be submitted for consideration prior to the public hearing and/or until midnight April 14, 2021, via Fax: 207-287-6308 or by email to Crystal Arbour at Crystal.Arbour@Maine.gov.
FCCAM encourages all providers to review the draft – Maine CCDF FFY22-24 Draft State Plan (PDF). (It is 152 pages in length, but you can skip over a good number of the pages.) Look for the underlined response from the state, which details how they plan to use CCDF funds to support children and families, thus enhancing the quality of child care for all children.
This post’s purpose is to highlight a few areas of the CCDF FFY22-24 Draft State Plan, providing examples of some of the ways the CCDF directs/impacts child care in Maine. Language was pulled as directly from the plan as possible. To make it easier to follow we used the plan’s numerical identification (example 2.3.1) for each section. The orange color blocks contain information also pulled from the plan as examples of broader impact on child care programs. The color blocks follow the section they relate to.
1.1.1 : Lead Agency is Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Under Maine’s plan the Lead Agency has the flexibility to modify this program at any time, including amending the options selected or described. 1.1.2. CCDF Administrator is Crystal Arbour, Child Care Services Program Manager. 1.2.2 The Lead Agency has broad authority to operate through other agencies, as long as it retains overall responsibility. This covers determining eligibility, finding child care, issuing payments, monitoring licensed providers and license-exempt providers, and operating quality improvement activities.
- Maine Roads to Quality (MRTQ)/The Professional Development Network (PDN) is responsible for the Childcare Choices website, a resource for finding child care by address, city, or zip code in Maine.
- The Opportunity Alliance Contact Center supplies an online directory and resource center with the website 2-1-1 Maine or through text messaging capabilities.
1.2.3 Office of Child and Family Services monitors all contracted services.
1.3.1 The Lead Agency is to have consultation with appropriate representatives. In Maine that starts with the Children’s Cabinet Early Childhood Advisory Council (CCECAC). There are 2 licensed family child care providers (State FCC organization recommendation is required). (Currently these 2 fcc providers are active members of FCCAM, currently serving on our Board. )The 5 Maine Tribal CCDF administrators are also contacted regularly.
1.4.1 Explains working for services, such as, children with special needs, including early intervention for infants and toddlers; Head Start; CDC public health/immunization; Maine Career Center; DOE for Pre-K;
Beginning January 2021, the State Administrator began participating in the ECS’s Early Learning Transitions Technical Assistance Initiative with DOE to improve aspects of transition in early care and educational settings across Maine.
child care licensing;
…coordinating goals and policies for Child Care Provider, rulemaking, and meeting guidelines for CCDF Rules, and other Lead Agency activities.
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP); homeless education; TANF; MaineCare; mental health;
Beginning in 2020, OCFS expanded the Children’s Behavioral Health Unit to include its newest program, Early Childhood Consultation Partnership (ECCP)
Child care resource and referral agencies; early childhood education training and professional development;
Maine does not have a CCR&R and does not plan on that changing. MRTQ/PDN handles the website for locating Child Care Providers in Maine, provides early childhood education training, professional development and statewide technical assistance (T/A) that include onsite consultation with the addition of District Early Childhood and Youth Coordinators (DCs) located in each Region of the State. (*see FCCAM PLC post on TA)
afterschool/ out-of-school time care; and emergency management.
1.8.2 State Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan includes guidelines for continuation of subsidy, child care services, and coordination of post-disaster recovery of child care services. (*note that the link provided for the disaster plan does not work.)
2.2.1 Complaints about child care providers process
2.3.4 Website links for Lead Agency’s processes related to child care – how the state/territory licenses child care, a rationale for exempting providers from licensing requirements, the procedure for conducting monitoring and inspections of providers, and the policies and procedures related to criminal background checks.
*(from link above)”The Office of Child & Family Services (OCFS) has been working to develop the criminal background check process to include fingerprinting that meets federal and state requirements for all child care providers delivering direct care services. This process is scheduled to be released August 30, 2020 for all current and prospective child care providers statewide. This process is at no cost to providers.”
2.3.6 Quality information posted for consumer knowledge – https://childcarechoices.me/
2.5.1 Resources and services available around a child’s developmental needs
3.1 Begins eligibility determination (*FCCAM PLC post about subsidy eligibility for families.)
3.2.3 Lower co-payments for higher quality of care.
Families using a step three quality rated provider receive a 10% discount in the parent fee. Families using a step four quality rated provider receive a 20% discount in the parent fee.
4.1.3 Equal Access to care – includes reported provider barriers for participation in CCSP and parental access to child during care.
The Lead Agency is actively working to decrease these barriers by including the health and safety training and QRIS participation into licensing rule. In addition, several incentives have been initiated into CCSP, this include the infant/toddler 10% increase in reimbursement at any step level and the infant stipend for CCSP providers caring for an infant receiving CCSP.
State of Maine Family Child Care Licensing Rule: The provider must allow parents to visit and observe any time during the hours of operation.
4.1.6 States that Maine will not provide child care services through grants or contracts for child car slots. (*This is an area that has been raised in the past looking at the barrier of providers maintaining a sustainable income while increasing availability of subsidy care.)
4.1.8 Lead Agencies are required to develop and implement strategies to increase the supply of and improve the quality of child care services.
This includes recruitment of providers. Through June 30, 2023, the Lead Agency is covering the costs of licensing and renewal fees for all licensed child care programs statewide. Also newly licensed ECE programs can apply for Quality Improvement Mini-Grants. The Lead Agency has also partnered with MaineAEYC to provide T.E.A.C.H. scholarships in Maine. (*see FCCAM PLC post)
CCSP Infant Stipend and Infant/Toddler reimbursement bump in July of 2020. Providers caring for an infant receiving CCSP, in compliance with the required health and safety training, and have an updated QRIS registry will receive $100 per infant per week. In addition, a 10% bump in reimburse for each infant or toddler in their care. Through the Lead Agency’s partnership with MRTQ PDN, Quality Improvement Stipends for programs joining Quality for ME. Individuals enrolled in the Maine Infant/Toddler Credential Cohorts can also receive Quality Improvement Stipends.
4.1.8.viii. Accreditation supports
Through the Lead Agency’s partnership with MRTQ PDN, Quality Improvement Mini-Grants: This funding is for programs that are currently in an accreditation cohort (for at least six months) OR that have submitted for their final accreditation observation, OR that have maintained a Step 4 during the funding period, OR meet all requirements assessed in all performance areas for Head Start AND maintain a Step 4 rating with Quality for ME. In addition, provide a fee reimbursement for the cost of accreditation.
4.2 Market Rate and Analyze of Cost of Child Care. [1,618 child care providers were sent surveys. 966 providers responded to the surveys.] (** (the link for the required posting of the MRS report does not work) Providers working with subsidy should have received information on their billing forms)
4.3 Payment Rate /Practices
5.2 Standards for Ratios / Qualifications for CCDF Providers. (*this impacts licensing and thus all providers)
6.1 Professional Development
MRTQ PDN trainings range from free to $1 per training hour. Technical assistance support for a practitioner to obtain a credential is free. The MRTQ PDN trainings are articulated into the Community College system and the cost for a practitioner to articulate into college coursework is free. Registry is free to all.
6.4 Early Learning and Development Guidelines
7 Continuous Quality Improvement
QRIS Revision Project, the Infant/Toddlers Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards (MELDS) were revised and finalized Fall of 2020. Maine expects the release to begin Spring of 2021.
Again, our purpose of any blog posts on this website is to provide information to child care providers across Maine about programs, legislation and state plans that impact the services they provide children and families. There is no way we could cover every part of the CCDF Draft and encourage all providers to read through it, focusing on sections that relate to their unique program and needs.
Not sure how to write testimony or provide written comment? Here’s an older post that might help you. Please know it is important for your comments to be heard.