from FCCAM Public Policy Committee ~
This joint letter from organizations working on behalf of the child care workforce has been sent to Gov. MIlls. We are the workforce behind the workforce.
Dear Governor Mills,
Thank you for all you are doing to support Maine’s fragile child care industry during this crucial and unsettling time. Such support has made the difference for many programs and enabled them to continue to serve working families. Sadly, that is not the case for all providers and families. We are writing to you today to ask for your continued help and support during this critical time.
As you know Maine’s child care sector still faces many challenges:
- 19% reduction in the childcare workforce since 2019, while program waitlists soar and families struggle to find care
- 27% decrease in the number of family child care providers in Maine since 2010
- 58% of Maine child care centers surveyed in 2021 reported being understaffed
- The poverty rate for early educators working in child care in Maine is 16.5%, much higher than for Maine workers in general (9.4%) and 8.3 times as high as their K-8 colleagues (2%).
Those of us who lead child care programs are making very difficult decisions while we face unprecedented staffing challenges: short term closings, shortening the hours we are open each day, closing for one day every week, closing down classrooms, and adding dozens more families to our waiting lists that we cannot serve right now.
Through federal Covid-19 relief funding, Maine has offered $200 per child care educator per month wage supplement as part of the child care stabilization grants from Oct. 2021 through Sept. 2022. We know that parents cannot afford to pay the much higher tuition costs that would be incurred to raise compensation in child care programs without public funding. As child care administrators, directors, owners, and teachers we can tell you that this public investment is working and we need this stable source of funding to continue.
The cost to run this statewide wage supplement program will be about $20 million per year, to allow for a tiered approach to supplements that honors years of experience and credentials and degrees earned. We are asking you to invest in the workforce behind the workforce, the essential early educators of Maine, with $20 million of ongoing state funding. Maine needs to support the vital child care workforce, just as we are valuing and investing in our colleagues in K-12 and other direct care and education sectors. Thank you for your leadership and steadfast commitment to child care in Maine.
YMCA Alliance of Northern New England
Family Child Care Association of Maine
Maine Head Start Directors Association
Maine Association for the Education of Young Children