Posted in DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

Stay Informed!

Here’s recent news from the Governor’s Office and OCFS that FCC providers should be aware of ~

“The health of Maine people, the health of our economy, and the health of our future depend on three things: our ability to put the pandemic behind us, our ability to tackle the economic challenges immediately in front of us, and the ability to solve the longstanding, systemic problems that have held us back for decades,” said Governor Janet Mills. “These initial investments, which deliver crucial financial relief to small businesses and Maine people, are a down-payment on these efforts. When combined with our forthcoming investments to rebuild our workforce, expand access to child care and housing, and support new, innovative industries, we will build a stronger state and a better economy that provides people with good-paying jobs, the opportunity to put down roots, and an unmatched quality of life.”

Small Business Health Insurance Premium Relief Program

The Small Business Health Insurance Premium Relief Program provides premium payment relief to Maine small businesses who are enrolled in a fully-insured, community-rated small group comprehensive health insurance plan. A small group plan is a plan that covers 50 or fewer employees.

  • The program is part of Governor Janet Mills’ Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan. It is paid for by $39 million in federal funding from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act.
  • The program will run from November 1, 2021 to April 30, 2023, depending upon the continued availability of funding.
  • All insurance carriers in Maine offering fully-insured small group plans in Maine are participating in this program. The insurers participating are Aetna, Anthem, CHO (Community Health Options), Harvard Pilgrim, and United Healthcare.
  • More detailed information and sample carrier letters are provided in the linked documents below: Information Sheet – General, overall information about the program Carrier Questions & Answers – A running list of Q&As from the carriers Draft Letter from Insurers to Small Group Employers – Sample language for carriers to use in an initial communication with their small group plans about the requirements of the program Draft Notice from Insurers to Small Group Employers, to Include with Monthly Invoices – Sample language for carriers to include with monthly invoices sent to small group plans

Business owners should first contact their insurance carrier with any questions about the credit or their monthly invoices.  Business owners may also contact the Bureau of Insurance at 1-800-300-5000 or by email: Insurance.PFR@Maine.gov, for additional information.


The Maine Jobs & Recovery Small Business Grant Program

The Governor announced today that her Administration is launching the Maine Jobs & Recovery Small Business Grant Program. The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development is putting forward $5 million of the $20 million allocated to the program in total for grants targeted at supporting capital intensive businesses that still need immediate short-term help to sustain operations.

More specifically, the $5 million will be put towards expense-based grant relief to help businesses and non-profits with significant expenses related to loans and interest they incurred in order to sustain operations. The loans must be in deferral as a direct result of the pandemic and the business must demonstrate at least 20 percent lost revenue in the year 2021. Applications for the program will open November 1, 2021.

The remaining $15 million will then be made available in April 2022 in order for businesses and non-profits to easily utilize tax returns to demonstrate financial impact of the pandemic on their businesses and, therefore, qualify for a funding based on need. This approach – stabilizing businesses most in need now followed by larger grants later on – was developed by DECD in conjunction with the business community.

This new program comes on top of the more than $273 million the Administration has already provided in Federal support to 5,224 businesses and non-profits during the pandemic.


Moving Forward

In coming weeks, the Mills Administration will continue to announce more Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan investments to address known, systemic challenges that have constrained Maine’s ability to grow and thrive, with priority focus on investments to grow and develop Maine’s workforce.

With more than $300 million in planned workforce investments through education and skills training programs, workforce housing, childcare, worker attraction, and business supports, the Jobs Plan aims to make a measurable impact on Maine’s workforce trends and build an economy poised for future growth.

Workforce investments in the Jobs Plan include $105 million for workforce programs at Maine schools, community colleges, and universities; $50 million for affordable and workforce housing, $20 million to expand Pre-K and childcare infrastructure, and programs targeted directly at addressing pressing workforce needs in health care and clean energy fields.

Other investments from the Jobs Plan include critical infrastructure investments, such as expanding broadband, enhancing state parks, accelerating weatherization and energy efficiency projects, and upgrading municipal stormwater and drinking water projects.

Funding for the Jobs Plan is through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, which allocated $4.5 billion in stimulus funds to Maine earlier this year.

Coordination of the Jobs Plan is led by the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services and the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, through a new Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan Office.


The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)  Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) would like to share a helpful resource for Child Care Providers to utilize when determining the total amount of reimbursement per child when factoring in OCFS’s current incentives.  

Child Care Subsidy Program Reimbursement Initiatives

Providers can find specific examples for their county in the linked Child Care Subsidy Program Reimbursement Initiatives. Here’s an example of what you will see per county:

Posted in Business Practice, DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

ARPA Stabilization Grant 1st Payment is Almost Here!

FCCAM Professional Learning Committee reached out on the ARPA Stabilization Grant to see if we could get a couple of questions being raised by providers answered.

Our email: “The PLC has received questions about how providers will receive payment and when it will start. We have previously posted for providers to watch for regular mail containing information they would need to the grant application and the email that their application submission was received. We have been reminding providers to retain all communications around this ARPA Grant. 
We are wondering if you have future directive we can provide regarding email notification, regular mail payments, etc. Any informed information we can share with providers would be appreciated.”

The response: “If they are set up for direct deposit they will receive payment that way, if not they will receive a check in the mail.  Payments will start at the end of October.  We will be updating info /FAQs/ etc within the next few weeks.”


Providers are also asking about the amount stated on their email about approval of their grant application. This is not the first email that states your application submission went through ~

It’s the email saying after review your application is approved. This approval email will list the amount of your grant. This amount is the monthly amount, not the total amount of grant. Your total amount will depend on when you apply for the grant and are approved. If you got in before Sept. 30th, your first payment will be coming the end of Oct. ’21. If you continue to provide direct care you will get monthly payments of the grant through Sept. ’22. This ARPA Stabilization grant is to run from Oct. ’21 to Sept. ’22, a maximum of 12 months. With this being a rolling grant providers who did not apply before Sept. 30th will be able to apply going forward.

Also note that your business situation might change over the length of the grant. You will be able to update your application through self-reporting. Details on this will be coming.

Some providers have asked about the listing of dollar amounts for each of the QRIS Steps. This indicates what the increase you would see each month would be if you raise your QRIS Step level. The amount is a monthly amount, not per child. With the incentives available from MRTQ PDN for moving up Steps, providers might find this a good time to look at what is needed to move up QRIS Steps. FCCAM PLC is happy to help any of our members looking at this. MRTQ PDN also has free Technical Assistance(TA).

Is award based on capacity? No the monthly amount is based of the number you are licensed for. In our discussions the PLC figures the questions around capacity are there to gather data about what is happening in Maine around care availability. Are workforce shortages impacting this? Is Maine’s workforce getting back to normal? Are there child care deserts, where future funds need to be focused? Etc. Federal money has requirements attached to it.

Estimation of your expenses falls into the same place. Why is this asked? What if I don’t have a lot of expenses? How do I use up the money? Etc. Don’t worry about the amount of the estimated expenses, just be sure you track what you spend the grant money on. A previous posted resource about allowable expenses is a place to start.

We also want to remind providers that you need to:

This is a perfect time to look further at how you maintain your small business records. Record keeping is recognized as one of the best returns in increasing your income for time spent. It will be especially important to have a solid tracking system in place to track the ARPA Stabilization grant funds vs expenses.


FCCAM will continue to share updates on the grant through blog posts, on our Facebook page and under the “Stabilization Grant” menu tab. You can find additional resources under the “Stabilization Grant” menu tab.

Posted in Business Practice, DHHS / OCFS

ARPA Stabilization Grant First Deadline Fast Approaching

This is an informational post from FCCAM PLC. The PLC cannot provide you with specific information about your application. For questions about status or updates to your ARPA Stabilization Grant application contact:  ARPAChildCareGrants.DHHS@Maine.gov.

The ARPA Stabilization Grant which will provide monthly payments beginning in October 2021 through September 2022 to all eligible child care programs has it’s first deadline approaching. To receive an Oct. payment a provider/program must complete and submit their grant application by 5:00PM Thursday, September 30, 2021.

As providers ourselves we know how this seems to be just one more thing to juggle at this time and we already have enough on our plates. That said, the monetary return on the time spent to apply is pretty significant.

Programs only need to apply once. You will be able to update program information if needed at any time after applying.


Our understanding is that as of Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 only 58% of eligible programs have submitted grant applications. FCCAM continues to strongly encourage all eligible programs to apply for this grant. Yes, it’s income and you will be paying some additional taxes, but you will still walk away with an increase to your income. You have a good number of options on usage of these funds, such as: temporarily lowering parent fees, increasing staff wages or benefits, cost for mental health support or even debts caused by COVID.

All licensed child care providers and licensed exempt Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) nonrelative providers that are open and providing direct child care are eligible to apply for the ARPA Stabilization Grant.

This grant is providing a rolling application so eligible programs will be able to apply after Sept. 30th. Applying after Sept. 30th means you will forfeit the monthly installment payments that occurred prior to your application being accepted. (Example: applying in Nov. means first payment eligible for would be Dec. You missed out on Oct. and Nov. payments)


Eligibility is based on the following factors:
• Providers must be open and providing direct child care on a regular basis at time of the application.
• Programs must be in compliance with licensing rules.
• Programs must have a valid Vendor Code with OCFS. If you do not have one you can get one through OCFS. If you received one or more of these payment types: OCFS CARES Act or CRRSA Grant funding and/or Child Care Subsidy Program reimbursement, you have a vendor code.

Here are the requirements that we’ve hear has caused some concern/frustration for providers:
• All program staff must be active members in the Maine Roads to Quality. If you haven’t registered yet it only takes about 15 minutes and the current Licensing Rule requires joining. You do not need to have all your work experiences or trainings added at this time, just open up your registry account. This FCCAM post can walk you through it.
• Licensed programs must be active in the Quality for ME Quality Rating Improvement
System (QRIS). This is also a current Licensing Rule requirement for programs. It also takes less than 30 minutes. You do not need to go for your highest level just now, just get on QRIS. This FCCAM post can walk you through it.
• All owners, directors, and staff must have completed the State approved health and safety training within 90 days of hire. Here’s more info on that. This training is pretty easy to break up into short parts, so can complete it even with the busy schedule of providers and staff.
• Providers must supply on the application their program’s estimated current total monthly expenses. The key words here are estimated current monthly expenses. This is with time/share % figured in. List what you spend each month and what your income is. This info isn’t used to figure what your monthly payment will be, but can be thought of as data the state needs as part of administering the grant.


We hope you all apply for the ARPA grant!

Need more encouragement? Compare this scenario with your situation. Family child care providers also remember that you are STAFF for this grant.

Sole provider / licensed for 6 / subsidy / Quality for ME Step 3

  • capacity: $600
  • staff: $200
  • subsidy: $150
  • Step 3: $150

Monthly total: $1100

Payments start in Oct. 2021 and end Sept. 2022

  • Oct/Nov/Dec 2021: $3300
  • Jan thru Sept 2022: $9900

30% tax on this scenario’s extra income means you would still pocket about: $2300 for 2021 & $6900 for 2022

Posted in DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

Maine’s Child Care Plan

material from September 2021 Updates for the Child Care Plan for Maine ~~~

FCCAM PLC has pulled sections that we feel providers need to be aware of as they may impact your small business. You can read the complete seven page plan: Child Care Plan for Maine.


“Maine recognizes the importance of quality, accessible, affordable child care to support working families. The benefit of quality child care is multifold – it supports working parents to provide for their families while children benefit educationally, socially, and emotionally from a caring, nurturing environment. From an economic perspective, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston states, “Research demonstrates child care problems lower worker productivity and cost U.S. employers and working parents billions of dollars annually. Furthermore, job stability and family income directly affect a child’s social, physical, and emotional health.” This Child Care Plan for Maine summarizes the system landscape pre-pandemic and the supports implemented to providers and families during the pandemic. Our focus then turns to recovery and the strategies that will be implemented to support Maine families, children, and child care providers toward a sustainable recovery and brighter future. This plan contains updates based on Federal guidance and the State’s disbursement of funds since May.”

Initiatives implemented beginning in state fiscal year 2021:

  • Providers participating in the Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP):
    • Receive a weekly stipend of $100 per infant on CCSP.
    • Receive a 10% quality bump payment for infants and toddlers served through CCSP.
  • OCFS, in an attempt to boost the recruitment and retention of early child care educators, began:
    • Covering the cost of licensing fees for both family child care providers and facilities.
    • Offering several quality awards in partnership with Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network (MRTQ PDN) with new Registry member awards, newly licensed mini-grants, moving up a quality level award, reimbursement for the cost of accreditation, and maintaining accreditation mini-grants.
    • Partnering with Maine Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC) to create TEACH scholarship program.
  • OCFS also began efforts to enhance the Child Care Choices website to improve the availability and accessibility of information about providers for families who may be seeking child care.
1 Total includes camps, CCSP licensed exempt resources, child care facilities and family child care providers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on the national child care system, however the numbers in Maine’s are more positive. “As of September 2021, Maine has 96% of the pre-COVID licensed programs open and operating. In addition, the Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) has seen a steady increase in total families and children receiving CCSP over the last four months. Currently 3,013 families representing 4,596 children are served by the program.”


Stabilization and support of providers has occurred (and continues) through multiple funding sources:

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, May of 2020, Maine received $10.9 million in CCDBG funding

  • grants provided directly to providers to cover COVID-19 related costs and build capacity,
  • providing child care subsidy for essential workers (regardless of income eligibility)
  • waiving parent fees for low income families receiving traditional CCSP

Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), August of 2020 the Governor allocated $8.4 million

  • grants provided reimbursement to providers for COVID-19 related business expenses (through December of 2020 totaled $2,176,464)

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation (CRRSA) Act, March of 2021, Maine received $30.5 million in CCDBG funding through CRRSA Act.

OCFS allocated 75% of the funding directly to child care providers through quarterly grants payments. The last payment will be December 2021. Remaining funds were used to expand professional development for providers through the Maine Roads to Quality (MRTQ) Professional Development Network (PDN) system, provide mental health and social emotional learning support to children and providers through the Early Childhood Consultation Program (ECCP), waiving copayments for CCSP families through 9/30/22, and reimbursing CCSP providers based on enrollment.

CRRSA funds will also be utilized to establish a Statewide Apprenticeship Program for Child Care Providers, provide Mini-grants and awards for achieving or maintaining accreditation, and/or for completing one of the Maine Credentials (Director, Infant Toddler, Inclusion, Youth Development).

American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), Maine has received an additional $121.9 million through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). The ARP child care funds will be broken up into three sections.

  • Discretionary – $45,752,460
  • Stabilization Subgrants – $73,176,466
  • Match- $2,984,281

Maine has chosen to use funds to support the entire child care delivery system through short-term stabilization and recovery as well as long-term growth and system improvement (subject to change with guidance from ACF). FCCAM PLC has pulled out some parts of the plan we know will directly impact providers:

  • ARPA Child Care Stabilization Grants (for all programs offering care as of Sept. 2021, and on an ongoing rolling basis) monthly payments from October 2021 to September 2022.
  • Waive child care licensing fees for 2 years to support new and existing child care providers
  • Supply a one-time $2,000 stipend (available from 7/1/21-9/30/23) to newly licensed family child care providers focused on increasing access to child care for families in rural and gap areas.
  • Waive Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) parent fees for families at or below 60% of State Median Income to support low income families until 9/30/23
  • Provide a 35% weekly increase of reimbursement to child care providers who take subsidy and are serving children with special needs
  • Reimburse CCSP based on enrollment for 2½ years
  • Translate CCSP materials into identified languages for both families and providers
  • Increase child care quality payments to 3%, 10%, 15% (per QRIS levels) for 2-years to support an increase in high quality programs
  • Build child care information system onto Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System CCWIS
  • Invest in Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) online screening tool for child care providers to screen and refer children to early intervention when delays in development are detected
  • Provide Second Step curriculum for child care to support social emotional learning
  • Expand Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) to measure outcomes in child care and incentive program participation with $500 per program

“In addition to the ARPA funds, OCFS will continue to support child care through ongoing efforts, including the infant/toddler stipend, workforce development through the TEACH scholarship, technical assistance through Maine Roads to Quality, and other efforts.”

Posted in DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

Early Childhood Education Workforce Listening Sessions

taken from MRTQ Shortcuts ~

The Office of Child and Family Services, in partnership with the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet, will be hosting a series of listening sessions with individuals working in the early childhood education field. In response to legislation introduced this past legislative session, the Office of Child and Family Services and a small team of stakeholders is examining policy options for increasing compensation for Maine’s early childhood education workforce. 

With support from the federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, the Office of Child and Family Services will be able to offer $200 per month stipends for teachers and staff working directly with children in licensed child care programs.  However this funding will end after one year. OCFS and its partners are taking this time to examine steps other states have taken to boost compensation for early childhood educators and receive feedback from early childhood educators and key stakeholders. The team will pull together this information in a report laying out policy options for legislators and policymakers to consider during the next legislative session. 

These listening sessions will be facilitated by a trained facilitator who will gather input and feedback from child care center directors, family child care owners/directors and early childhood educators working in center-based and home-based programs. 

Three listening sessions will be held via Zoom during the last week in September:

  • A listening session for Child Care Center Directors will be held on Monday, September 27th from noon to 1 pm. To participate in this session, please register in advance at this link.  
  • A listening session for Family Child Care Directors and Owners will be held on Tuesday, September 28th from 6 pm to 7 pm. To participate in this session, please register in advance at this link
  • A listening session for early childhood educators and staff working in child care centers or family child care programs will be held on Wednesday, September 29th from 6 pm to 7 pm. To register for this session, please register at this link

If you have any questions about these sessions, please feel free to email Ana Hicks, Children’s Cabinet Coordinator, at ana.hicks@maine.gov.

Posted in DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information, Professional Development

Maine’s 2021 Statewide Early Childhood Education Conference Is Going Virtual

FCCAM’s Professional Learning Committee wants providers to know about the opportunity for more providers to attend the 2021 Statewide ECE Conference for FREE! We also want those that had already registered for this event to have time to make any adjustments needed.


from the Statewide Conference Planning Team:

We have had growing concerns within our conference planning team and from many of our presenters and participants around the Delta Variant. Most of you are teachers, staff, and leaders at child care centers, family child care programs, and public schools who will be going back to spaces with children two days after our event. And, as you know, vaccines for children are not yet available. We don’t feel it is going to be safe to continue with a large indoor event that is only weeks away during a surge in cases in Maine.

We are excited about the excellent keynote speakers and presenters who will be able to bring you great content over the two days as well as new opportunities this will allow for, such as access to sessions beyond the event itself. Below are some details regarding the change from in-person to virtual: 



Registration:

  • The $70 registration cost will allow access to the conference for the full 2 days and beyond!  We are working within our conference planning team to make adjustments to those who have already purchased tickets for two days and paid $140.
  • Exciting news! If you haven’t registered yet, there will be 170 more complimentary registrations available next week on September 16th at 6am. Stay tuned for an email from The Office of Child and Family Services with a code to register for FREE! 

Keynote Speakers and Breakout Sessions: 

  • There will be one keynote and 30 live workshops to choose from each day. Most sessions will be recorded for later viewing so you can attend and engage with even more content for months after the event.
  • LIVE Keynote Address with Walter Gilliam on Friday and Lisa Murphy on Saturday! 
  • Other LIVE breakout sessions with Lisa Murphy on Saturday include Lisa Murphy on Being Child Centered and Lisa Murphy On…Play! The Importance of Early Experiences. Please note, these sessions will only run live on Saturday and will not be recorded for future viewing. 
  • Over 50 breakout sessions to choose from over the 2 days including: 
    • Business Basics for Family Child Care Providers 
    • Supporting LGBTQ Families in the Early Childhood Setting
    • Mindfulness: Experience and Inquiry
    • Moving Out: First Steps to Creating an Outdoor Classroom
    • Creating a Trauma Sensitive Classroom
    • And much more! 

Questions? Check out the 2021 Statewide Early Childhood Education Conference Event Page and always feel free to reach out!

Posted in DHHS / OCFS

Additional ARPA Grant Application Help

OCFS provided a video review of what is needed by providers to complete this ARPA grant application. They also provided the powerpoint that formed the video, so providers could review it further. Members of FCCAM have watched the OCFS video and gone over the powerpoint slides. We have had discussions around questions asked previous to the application release. The following information is meant to further support providers as they work through this ARPA Grant application.


With the arrival of Sept 1, 2021, Maine’s ARPA Stabilization Grant Application is open for eligible providers to complete. There is not a rush to complete, because this grant application is available for all eligible providers. It is not limited to first come first served. Providers should have all the information they need at hand before they begin the application process.

Providers wishing to update their status after their initial application will be able to do so through self-reporting options. 


OCFS sent an earlier letter by regular mail to all providers with the information they would need for completing the first part of the application.

  • License Number/Resource ID: 
  • License Capacity: 
  • QRIS Level: 
  • CCSP Provider: 
  • Your program’s vendor code: 
  • Name listed on your license or CCSP licensed exempt non-relative provider name:
  • Program Payment Address: 

There are other eligibility requirements you want to be up to date on before applying.

  • All program staff must be active members in the Maine Roads to Quality Registry 
  • Licensed programs must be active in the Quality for ME Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) 
  • All owners, directors, and staff must have completed the State approved health and safety training within 90 days of hire

It is a federal requirement for states to require the within 90 days of hire. Questions have been asked about how this impacts those working longer than the 90 days. While we have not gotten clarification from OCFS beyond this, we have been recommending everyone complete the free on-demand class found on MRTQ PDN. While it is listed as a 6 hour training, many providers have found it takes less real time. It is also a training that is broken into sections that you proceed through as your time allows.

Any question with a red star is required. If you miss one when you go to “continue and review” your application it will flag what was missed.

License Capacity is not the children you currently have in care or even enrolled for care. It is the number listed on your license which applies a maximum number to the number of children you can directly be providing care for at any point in time.

With the current Licensing Rule, all family child care providers are now required to participate in Quality for ME (Maine’s QRIS program) and many have been moving up the Steps to take advantage of the current incentives, your Step level might be different from that provided in the letter from OCFS. List the Step level you have the most recent certificate for. For those that have still not completed this Licensing Rule requirement there is to be an option present that covers that. Here’s information to support QRIS sign up.

CCSP = subsidy

Any provider that received previous grant funds last year, participates in the subsidy program (CCSP), or has ever received payment from DHHS/OCFS you have a vendor code. It was on your letter, or you can get it from a payment receipt.

Questions or to apply for a Vender Code with OCFS, contact Vickie Bussey at (207) 624-7909 or Vickie.Bussey@maine.gov

The type of program is accessed through the dropdown tab at the right hand side for the question. Click the correct label for your program and it will auto fill the question.


FCCAM PLC asked OCFS: Are family child care providers classified as owner/director or are they considered more in line with staff when figuring staff bonus? OCFS response: Family child care are considered all of the above and are eligible for the staff bonuses. ~ From this answer family child care providers are to answer this section as owners. Then in the future staff section are to consider themselves as staff. Staff are those individuals who are paid and provide direct care to children.


To be eligible for this ARPA grant you need to be open and providing direct care by Sept. 1, 2021. If you meet this then you are eligible for the first installment of this grant in Oct. if you complete and submit the grant application by 5:00PM Thursday, September 30, 2021.

You will only need to complete the application once to participate in this grant.

Average enrollment is not necessarily your stated license capacity. You can have a higher enrollment than your stated capacity. This happens when providers take part-time care clients, B/A school clients, etc. It’s how many of us increase our income by juggling clients to have each of our capacity slots fully occupied. Example: licensed capacity of 10 vs enrollment of 14 children. 

Providers can estimate their current monthly expenses in different ways depending on your manner of record keeping. You might access last year’s tax records, your annual budget, or your last few months expense records.  Note* do not include the $, only numbers.


If you are looking for more clarity on what is allowed for these different areas FCCAM PLC has this resource explaining multiple of these areas. Major renovations are not allowed. Our research indications that you do not need new expenses to cover this money. You can cover your current general business expenses. You do need receipts however that indicate how you used the grant funds and they will need to be maintained for 5 years. They can be audited by the state as part of this grant program. The usage of the grant funds can replace your parent fees that generally are what you use to cover operating expenses and you can then use those parent fees however you wish. Here are some ways providers have told us they are looking at using grant money:

  • retirement,
  • replace equipment,
  • cover utilities,
  • facility maintenance,
  • facility improvement to improve program’s inclusive and accessible ability,
  • technology,
  • debt incurred,
  • cover mortgage,
  • health care insurance,
  • staff salary increase, and 
  • reduce family fees

OCFS has stated that providers can consider covering the following with grant funds:

  • Additional administrative expenses due to COVID-19  
  • COVID-19 testing and contact tracing –
  • Additional food cost due to COVID-19 
  • To prevent hardship due to closings in response to positive cases of COVID within programs or decreased enrollment 
  • Hazard pay or bonuses to staff 
  • Increased costs of staff recruitment, hiring, and retention including, but not limited to, staff sign-on bonuses, current staff bonuses, increased wages, hazard pay or back pay from March 11, 2021 
  • Grant funds may be used to support staff not eligible for the individual grant staff bonuses 

Reminder to family child care providers – you are to consider yourself “staff” as you provide direct care to children.

Staff also need to have joined the MRTQ PDN Registry.

The provider must follow all legal requirements for withholding/paying federal/state taxes for staff. They cannot be considered “staff” for this grant if paid under the table or if they work as an independent contractor.


If you missed a required answer it will be flagged when you click “continue to review”. 

Applicants will receive an email confirmation of receipt of application. Please retain for your records! OCFS will send award notices for all approved applications once processed. 

Grant funds are considered taxable income. Programs and/or individuals should contact their financial professional/accountant for questions regarding state and federal tax. 

For more information or questions, please contact ARPAChildCareGrants.DHHS@Maine.gov

Posted in DHHS / OCFS

ARPA Stabilization Grants Application is Opening Wed., Sept 1, 2021

Office of Child and Family Services just released a memo about the Stabilization Grant application opening Wed., Sept. 2021.

Here are the highlights:

  • All licensed and CCSP license-exempt nonrelative child care providers who are open and providing direct care by September 1, 2021 are eligible to apply.
  • Providers may apply for the first installment of grants if they are providing direct child care when they apply.
  • This application period will be open on Sept. 1, 2021 until Sept. 30, 2021.
  • The application will be on a rolling basis.
  • Those programs approved will only be required to apply once. Future payments will be automatic.
  • Programs with short-term closures due to their response to COVID-19 cases are eligible to apply.
  • The grants will be administered for 12-months with the first installment of payments to begin October 2021 through September 2022.

This link is to an OCFS webinar containing guidance and detailed instructions for how to complete the application.

You can also access the webinar’s PowerPoint slides from the Aug. 31st memo.

It is recommended by OCFS that you fully review both the webinar and the slides carefully prior to beginning the application. (The video is around 25 minutes)


Once active on Wed., Sept 1, 2021, the grant application may be found here: https://appengine.egov.com/apps/me/dhhs/arpagrant

For questions or more information please contact ARPAChildCareGrants.DHHS@Maine.gov


Eligibility will be based on the following factors:
• Providers must be open and providing direct child care on a regular basis at time of the application
• Programs must have a valid Vender Code with OCFS
• All program staff must be active members in the Maine Roads to Quality Registry
• Licensed programs must be active in the Quality for ME Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS)
• All owners, directors, and staff must have completed the State approved health and safety training within 90 days of hire
• Providers must supply on the application their program’s estimated current total monthly expenses


Payments will be based on the following:
Licensed capacity
– $100 per licensed slot per month
– License-exempt, nonrelative providers will be reimbursed based on
capacity of 2 slots
Additional funds for higher quality levels
– Step 1- $50 per month
– Step 2 – $100 per month
– Step 3 – $150 per month
– Step 4 – $200 per month
CCSP providers with a CCSP Provider Agreement
– $150 per month
Providing nontraditional hours of care
– 6PM to 6AM or weekend hours will receive $100 per month / Documentation will be required to be submitted to: ARPAChildCareGrants.DHHS@Maine.gov

Staff bonuses
– $200 per staff per month and funds must be paid directly to staff (same for part- or full-time staff)
– For the purposes of the OCFS ARPA Stabilization Grants, staff eligible to receive the staff bonus are those staff that are providing direct care to children (excluding volunteers), owners,
and directors.

Posted in Business Practice, DHHS / OCFS

Interpretation for English Language Learners

The Professional Learning Committee continues to review the FCC and Facility Licensing Rules as part of gathering resources to support providers. As part of this review we hit upon the requirement in the staff handbook that requires interpretation for English Language Learners.

This is not an area we have seen providers raising many questions about, but are also not seeing it addressed in policies we are seeing. We are wondering if providers have not picked up on it, as we had not in our previous readings of the Licensing Rule?

The diversity of Maine’s communities, whether urban or rural, continues to grow. This diversity is also being seen in the child care workforce, whether it’s staff or new programs being opened. With community changes providers are seeing the diversity of the children in care changing. The question becomes how we as small business owners address this diversity within our programs. Providing the service of child care we know that working with the child’s family is a major part of that we do. We want our client families to understand we are open to working together. Add in that best business practice tells us we should address our working practices within our policies. The PLC reached out to MRTQ PDN DC Marnie Morneault to discuss concerns of English Language Learners and some of the impact on providers and programs. As part of this discussion Licensing was also asked to clarify if the interpretation requirement was just for staff, as that was the only place we found it clearly required. Their response was that interpretation covered more than staff. It covered our work with children and communication with their parents/legal guardians. With this clarity the PLC felt it was important to provide sample language providers could use in their handbook covering interpretation.

The question became: “How do we make it clear that we welcome diversity and meet interpretation needs for English Language Learners (ELLs)?”

You might also see or be familiar with ELLs being referred to as: limited English proficient (LEP), Dual Language Learners (DLLs), home language, or primary language. In the past English as Second Language (ESL) was commonly used. That has changed with the recognition that many who are learning English already speak several other languages, so English would not be a “second” language.

What is language interpreting and translation?

Language interpreting is the conversion of one spoken language into another, where translation covers written language. Interpreting and translation also apply to the context of signed languages and tactile writing systems like Braille.

Looking beyond the child considering a child’s parents and/or your staff, they may have good conversational fluency in English, but may not be able to understand, discuss or read information proficiently in English. They may be reluctant to request or accept professional interpreting and translation services due to fear of costs, inconvenience, or concerns about confidentiality. We felt these barriers needed to be consider in development of policy language. Providers may already be addressing inclusion within a number of policies around children’s rights, parental communications, their program’s curriculum meeting individual child needs. Through continuing discussion specifically around language, the PLC thought it made sense for providers to add in simple, specific language that clearly mentioned working with English Language Learners. Working with Marnie we have 2 language versions that should meet that need.

If you have your handbook all updated for the new Licensing Rule, you can add this language as an addendum. If you print off your handbook you can now print off this language as a separate sheet and hand it out to parents. If you do your handbook online, it’s easier to make changes in the set-up. Make the change and then send an email with the link, verbally tell and/or note on your parent information board.

English Language Learners Policy (Families):

At ___ childcare we accept learners from all ethnic backgrounds.  The primary language we communicate in is ____.  If you communicate more comfortably in another language, please let us know.  We will make every effort to make our materials and communications accessible for you in your home language.  We will also incorporate your child’s language and culture into our visuals and communications as much as possible. 

English Language Learners Policy (Staff):

At ____childcare we employ staff from all ethnic backgrounds.  The primary language we communicate in is ______.  If you communicate more comfortably in another language, please let us know.  We will make every effort to make our materials and communications accessible for you in your home language.  


Additional resources for providers looking for more information on this topic:

Dual Language Learners: Considerations and Strategies (Head Start/ECLKC)

Dual Language Learners Resources | Early Childhood  (The National Center on Early Childhood Development)

Planned Language Approach: Tips for Getting Started (Head Start/ECLKC)

Posted in Business Practice, DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

Saying Yes! To the Stabilization Grant

Conversations questioning whether or not providers should apply for the lastest stabilization grant are going on. Members of the PLC have done research of federal/national resources, and reviewed other states’ approaches. FCCAM PLC is not offering any financial or legal expertise with this post. While FCCAM supports providers applying for this latest stabilization grant, it is up to each provider to make the best decision for their personal position and their small business’ sustainability.


Grants and loans are income for tax purposes, but unlike a loan you do not have to pay a grant back. A comment repeatedly heard in discussions has been in regards to providers not wanting to pay additional taxes. If you take this grant you would be paying additional taxes on the income from the grant, but at the same time you would be walking away with more money than you had without the grant. 

A common figure used for estimating what the extra tax basis would be is 30% – 40%. As self-employed, you have to pay 15% Social Security/Medicare tax; any state tax; and then the federal tax (following the current year tax brackets) on all income, including any grant money. If you are looking for an estimate of what to take off the top, look at 30-40% tax on the grant money.

Thinking of the grant as extra income, not extra taxes, here’s an example:

Provider licensed for 8, needing their full-time equivalent (FTE) to be at 5 to meet their annual business budget. 

“Full-time equivalent(FTE)” is a financial term. For child care it means filling up a care slot. It’s not licensed capacity. It’s how your care slots are filled. We all know we are licensed for a certain number, but we often have more than that enrolled in the program. That’s because if we are doing part-time or before-after school care we are juggling children to fill each care slot as full as possible so we are maxing out the potential income.

Do you turn away children when full-time equivalent is reached? For most the answer would be “No”. Extra income is made from those additional children in care, even minus the 30% paid in taxes. That extra income can be used for such things as a new car, kids travel teams, college tuition, home renovations, and retirement. 

In researching, there were only 2 examples provided where the grant might have a negative impact. One is if your health insurance cost is figured off your income. Any increase in income could cause you to have higher insurance costs that would outweigh the financial gain. The other is if your income is used in applying for financial scholarship relief for a child in college or preparing to attend college, or even yourself if you are in a degree program. In either of these situations you should contact the party that oversees them for more information.

Sole provider / licensed for 8 / no subsidy / Quality for ME Step 1

  • capacity: $800
  • staff: $200
  • subsidy: $0
  • Step 1: $50

Monthly total: $1050

*Payments of this grant which start Oct. 2021 are expected to last a year ending in Sept. 2022. Income received is thus split over 2 tax years: 3 months for 2021 and 9 months 2022.

  • Oct/Nov/Dec 2021: $3150 / 30% is $945 / income gained $2205
  • Jan thru Sept 2022: $9450 / 30% is $2835 / income gained $6615

From 8/3/21 OCFS memo: Grant funds are meant to cover COVID-related costs for the following:

  • Rent, utilities, facilities maintenance, and insurance
  • Reduction in family cost (i.e. registration fees, weekly child care cost for private pay parents)
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning, and other health and safety needs
  • Equipment and supplies
  • Goods and services
  • Mental health services
  • Paying for past expenses
  • Additional administrative expenses due to COIVD-19
  • COVID-19 testing and contact tracing
  • Additional food cost due to COVID-19; and/or
  • To prevent hardship due to closings in response to positive cases of COVID within programs or decreased enrollment
  • Hazard pay or bonuses to staff.
    • Staff support can include but not limited to staff sign-on bonuses, current staff bonuses, increased wages, hazard pay or back pay from March 11, 2021 on.
    • Grant funds may be used to support staff not eligible for the individual grant staff bonuses.

For the staff bonus you need to be sure your employees meet the federal definition: Employees are defined as individuals for whom you withhold and pay any federal and state payroll taxes. Independent contractors or anyone you provide a 1099 Form to are not considered employees. 

Here’s a Family Child Care Expense Tracking Tool which might help providers estimate their total of their program’s monthly expenses that the Maine application is asking for. 

If you have a wish list of items for future purchase, using grant money is an option. From the research, other states are allowing providers to take the full grant as income for themselves. It is not clear if this will be allowable in Maine. Most providers’ annual business expenses are already covered by collected parent fees. With receipts the grant amount can be used to cover your normal annual business deductions and parent fees would now be your income/profit. It’s all the same total money, just assigned different roles/purposes. Funding a retirement account with the grant may also be allowable. If you have debt for such things as medical expenses, or credit cards, paying those off might be better usage of funds. Paying off accounts like this (with accruing interest) you realize more return on that extra income in the long run. Then you might consider just setting extra income aside for that. All indications are that major renovations are not allowable as a usage for this money. Our situations are all unique and thus how we decide to proceed in usage of the extra income from this stabilization grant will vary

For a number of the business expenses fcc providers can write off as deductions the Time-Space % must be used. Consider that to cover or pay $0 in taxes on $3000 of the grant (at 30% tax) you would need to have deduction receipts that total $10,000. That means an additional extra $10,000 in receipts. Using the scenario of $3450 extra income for 2021, after just paying the 30%( $1035) for taxes you’re ahead $2415 for 2021 if you take the grant.

Many providers do not take all the deductions they are legally able to. Tom Copeland has some strong thoughts on this and has written many posts about taxes and deductions. Check out his posts.


Having some basic knowledge of tax brackets and how they work might help answer additional questions.

Your total income is not what you pay taxes on. Your taxable income is determined by finding your adjusted gross income and then subtracting either the standard deduction or itemized deductions. Here are the 2021 standard deductions amounts for each filing status:

Filing StatusStandard Deduction
Single$12,550
Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er)$25,100
Married Filing Separately$12,550
Head of Household$18,800

The IRS requires receipts for items that are claimed as deductions to be maintained for 3 years. States may have another standard. If you have staff you need to keep those payment records for 4 years. 7 years is only required if you claim a loss or bad debt as a deduction.

The tax you owe is figured by adding the amount for each of the brackets your income falls under. If you fall into 3 different tax brackets, you pay at those 3 different rates. It is a common misunderstanding that all of your taxable income is taxed at the highest rate. You would add them all up to find your total income tax owed. If you make just enough to fall into a higher tax bracket only the amount you made just over a bracket will be taxed higher. Check your copy of your federal and state tax returns for the last couple of years. You can see if your income and business expenses are aligning or if there is a major change in either. You can estimate what the grant income might do. 

You can find charts for all the 2021 tax brackets here.

Here’s how it would work for Married filing jointly:

$0 – $19,90010%
$19,901 – $81,050$1,990 + 12% of the amount over $19,900
$81,051 – $172,750$9,328 + 22% of the amount over $81,050
$172,751 – $329,850$29,502 + 24% of the amount over $172,750
$172,751 – $329,850$67,206 + 32% of the amount over $329,850
$418,851 – $628,300$95,686 + 35% of the amount over $418,850
$628,301 or more$168,993.50 + 37% of the amount over $628,300

For providers that are thinking about lowering their costs for parents for the year or not raising rates as planned, 2 points to consider: 

1 – It’s good business practice to keep your rates at least at the market rate for your county or raise your posted rate yearly considering the annual inflation rate. You do not have to charge families your posted rate. You can apply discounts per family as desired. Annual update of rates helps eliminate big rate changes.

2 – If you decide to reduce costs for families this year, you will not show an increase in your income and thus no taxes will be paid on grant money received. What will the impact be on your rates after this grant has ended?