The York County Early Childhood Coalition is so excited to announce that our 2023 Early Care & Education spring conference this year will be held at the Sanford Regional Technical Center in Sanford, Maine on Saturday, April 29, 2023. We want to know your WHY? What fuels your passion? How did you follow your passion to where you are today? Please join us as we explore the motivation behind our amazing professional community. We would like to open our doors to presenters who would like to inspire and encourage each other as well as the up and coming professionals in our early childhood community.
As a facilitator of a breakout session, presenters will begin each session with a brief story about how s/he became a part of the ECE community then will share information to engage adult and student learners in a professional topic that relates to the care and education of young children, supporting families, and/or policy and advocacy. The breakout sessions will provide time for sharing information and discussion and hands-on participation is encouraged. ECE professionals will leave the breakout session with ideas, skills, and resources that they will be able to use in their classrooms or programs. We will be offering a variety of breakout sessions each for 1.5 hours. Never been a presenter before? No worries! This is a great opportunity to share a topic you are excited and passionate about!
Below are lists of some of the possible topics to explore.
The Maine Early Learning and Development Standards (MELDS) are the state’s learning standards for children ages three-five. Building from the Infant Toddler MELDS (IT MELDS) and bridging developmental expectations to the Maine Learning Results (MLRs), the MELDS inform all early childhood professionals about the typically developing expectations of young children as well as curriculum and assessment practices.
Over the past few years, the IT MELDS and MLRs have been updated. In order to ensure alignment across the sets of standards, it is time to update the MELDS which were last updated in 2015.
To guide the update process, a steering committee of early childhood professionals from around Maine has been formed and is interested in collecting feedback about the current version of the MELDS. All interested early care and education stakeholders (e.g., childcare providers, parents, teachers, ed techs, administrators) are encouraged to complete this feedback surveyno later than November 6, 2022. Input will inform the next steps in the updating process.
In the new year, early care and education stakeholders will be encouraged to consider contributing their expertise to writing teams that will assist with the updating process. The goal is to have the MELDS update completed by July 2023.
If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Education’s Early Childhood Specialist, Nicole.Madore@maine.gov or the Office of Child and Family Services Child Care Services Program Manager, Crystal.Arbour@maine.gov
Governor Mills Announces Launch of $10 Million Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan Grant Program to Help Child Care Businesses Start or Expand
Awards could support more than 3,500 new child care slots, helping 2,000 parents pursue career and educational opportunities
Governor Janet Mills announced today that $10 million is now available through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to help child care businesses launch or expand. The awards, which utilize Federal funding through the American Rescue Plan, could support more than 3,500 new child care slots across Maine, enabling 2,000 parents to work or take classes while their children receive quality care.
The Child Care Infrastructure Grant Program is part of a $25 million child care initiative in the Governor’s Jobs Plan that includes $15 million for early childhood education. The grant program will help Maine people open child care businesses in their homes, transform existing buildings into quality child care spaces, and construct new child care facilities. Existing child care providers can also use the funding to expand the number of children they serve. Priority is given to sites in rural areas, that care for infants and toddlers, and participate in the child care subsidy program.
An additional $5.4 million for this Program was included in the supplemental budget and will be distributed this fall.
“Maine’s current and future workforce depends on accessible, affordable child care. Not only do working parents need a safe place to send their kids during the day, but research shows that successful early care and education programs can boost academic outcomes and even high school graduation rates,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Through the budget and the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, we are expanding access to child care and giving working families what they need to provide healthy, safe care for their kids that allows them to go to work, bring home a paycheck, and strengthen our economy.”
“These grants will help families across Maine find quality child care in their own communities,” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) Director Todd Landry. “Jumpstarting new child care businesses and creating new child care slots will enable parents to take new jobs or pursue their education knowing that their children are safe and well cared for.”
OCFS is administering the Child Care Infrastructure Grant Program through a partnership with Brunswick-based Coastal Enterprises, Inc. The funding may be used for new construction, renovations, outdoor spaces, indoor furniture and fixtures, educational materials and working capital.
“Finding child care is a challenge for most working parents,” said Keith Bisson, President, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI). “Lack of child care keeps parents out of work, affecting a family’s economic well-being and causing a ripple effect of lower participation in Maine’s workforce. CEI is honored to partner with the State of Maine to help administer this grant program in support of our child care ecosystem.”
Applications for new family or home-based child care businesses are opening first, to encourage new providers in Maine’s rural areas, beginning today through May 2024. Home-based child care businesses may apply for 75 percent of their start-up costs, up to $8,500. Applications for new construction of child care centers and expansion of existing child care providers will be announced by August 2022.
New family child care businesses licensed by September 30, 2023 are also eligible for a one-time $2,000 stipend.
“Governor Mills and her Administration have recognized that child care is essential to Maine’s economy,” said Tara Williams, Executive Director of the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children. “Investing in child care infrastructure grants reduce cost barriers for start-up child care businesses and program expansion. These investments in child care businesses and recent investments in the child care workforce continue to grow Maine’s child care system and are beneficial to Maine’s families and economy.”
“A high quality child care system is important for the future of Maine. The ongoing investments of Governor Mills and her Administration recognize the importance of supporting all parts of the system,” said Jennifer Wescott, Chair of the Family Child Care Association of Maine. “FCCAM appreciates the recognition of the important role that family child care providers serve in a high quality child care system. We appreciate the effort to support existing programs to expand and improve quality of care, as well as providing start up support for those new small businesses entering the profession.”
Governor Mills is making these and other historic investments in accessible child care in Maine as part of the first-ever Child Care Plan for Maine (PDF) developed by OCFS that invests approximately $120 million in American Rescue Plan funds to help Maine’s child care system recover and to improve quality, accessibility, and affordability over the long-term. Maine was one of the first 12 states to release these American Rescue Plan funds, with more than 1,500 providers receiving the payments to date. This investment also includes helping low-income parents who receive subsidies by waiving their contribution to child care fees.
Additionally, Governor Mills included in her supplemental budget, signed into law in April, State funding to continue $200 monthly stipends to more than 7,000 child care workers, continuing stipends that the Department began providing last year as part of a larger effort to attract and retain people to work in this valuable profession.
As a result of these investments totaling more than $100 million, child care providers have been able to maintain, and even build, capacity despite the pandemic – from 47,819 licensed slots in February 2020 to 48,940 licensed slots in June 2022.
OCFS additionally maintains the Child Care Choices website, which allows families to locate and connect with providers in their area.
Maine State Child Care Infrastructure Grant Program (all this material has been gathered from the CEI website) ~
Priority will be given to applications from Aroostook, Franklin, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset and Washington Counties. In addition, applicants committing to the following will receive bonus points:
Increasing their licensed capacity by 6 or more children
Providing care for infants
Providing care for toddlers
Providing care for families income-eligible for subsidy
Participating in the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program
Grant awards are expected to cover a portion of the total expenses required to open or expand a child care business. Funds awarded may be used for the following purposes:
Purchasing educational materials
Acquiring indoor furniture and fixtures
Creating an outdoor learning environment
Procuring health and safety supplies and other materials required to be licensed
Having sufficient working capital on hand for the first few months
Existing family child care providers interested in expanding their licensed capacity* are encouraged and eligible to apply for up to 50% of their expansion costs, up to $4,000. Up to $25,000 is available for those adding a room on to their home exclusively for their child care business. Grant awards received may be used for the following purposes:
Renovating a home to expand licensed capacity. Selected examples include adding a window to allow for egress and to add natural light, removing a wall to increase the size of a room and adding an accessible ground-floor bathroom.
Purchasing educational materials. Selected examples include books, musical instruments, developmentally appropriate toys and consumable supplies, such as paper, paint and chalk.
Acquiring indoor furniture and fixtures. Selected examples include tables, chairs, cribs and sleeping mats.
Expanding an outdoor learning environment. Selected examples include installing a fence, building pathways, gardens or activity centers, such as a mud kitchen.
Buying playground equipment. Selected examples include swings, sandboxes, shade areas, playsets and energy-absorbing material.
Procuring health and safety supplies and other materials required to be licensed. Selected examples include first aid kits, electrical outlet covers and gates.
There are three steps to the Family Child Care Growth application process:
1) FCC Growth Application 1 : Submitting the required documentation to expand the capacity of your family child care. You must submit this application first, and it is anticipated that this application may take up to two hours to complete. Applications will be accepted until all funds are awarded or through August 31, 2023, whichever occurs first.
2) Meet with your licensor to understand your maximum capacity with renovations or expanded activity areas for children. In some situations, the fire marshal may need to be involved; your licensor will determine if that is required. Upon completion of FCC Growth Application 1, you and your licensor will receive an email notification to meet to discuss your expansion plans.
3) FCC Growth Application 2: Describing your expansion plans (number of children, hours of operation, and services provided) plus a list of your expansion expenses. You will receive a link to FCC Growth Application 2 after you meet with your licensor. It is anticipated that this application may take a few days to complete. Applications will be accepted through July 31, 2023 or until all funds are awarded.
All child care providers, whether they are licensed-exempt, FCC providers, center directors or any child care staff are required under the active Licensing Rules for FCC and Facilities to join the state’s Registry that MRTQ PDN handles. Part of being on the registry means you will receive “SHORTScuts” a weekly e-newsletter. It usually hits inboxes on Wednesdays.
Why should you care if it’s in your spam box or not?
Most of us get too many emails to deal with as busy providers. With our limited time to do required and recommended record keeping, when checking emails it’s just so easy to trash ones we see as unimportant to our daily work. And the ones already in the spam box are really easy to ignore. You want to check out SHORTScuts before you trash it. Yes, it’s a longer email, but you can quickly scroll through it only stopping at items of interest.
The weekly SHORTScuts is the best place to see what is happening in the wider ece field for trainings. MRTQ PDN has the ability to gather resources on training opportunities that no other organization or agency in Maine does. With SHORTScuts they have pulled together news about local, state and national training opportunities. If you see a training opportunity of interest you can easily access more information from the link buttons included in the descriptions. They also share informational updates, usually at the beginning of the e-newsletter.
Still don’t think you’ll have time to deal with checking your email for this weekly e-newsletter? That’s ok. MRTQ PDN has the publications from March 2020 to the latest SHORTScut e-newsletter on their website. You can always just go there.
The weekly SHORTScuts e-newsletter comes from: email@example.com. Be sure to adjust your email’s recognition of this, so the email doesn’t sit in your spam box.
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.
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
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.”
Go NAPSACC makes it easier than ever to give the children in your program a start in developing healthy habits.
Programs use Go NAPSACC to improve their practices, policies and environments in these seven areas:
Foods & Beverages Provided
Feeding Environment & Practices
Menus & Variety
Breastfeeding & Infant Feeding:
Breastfeeding Environment & Support Practices
Infant Foods Provided & Feeding Practices
Farm to ECE:
Local Foods Provided
Foods & Beverages Provided
Infant & Child Physical Activity:
Indoor Play Environment:
Outdoor Play & Learning:
Outdoor Playtime & Play Environment
Go NAPSACC walks providers through the following 5 step process as they look at how to improve their program to support the development of healthy habits for the children in their care. You can work on one or multiple areas at a time. This 5 step process works as a loop that allows for continual review and growth of policy and best practices.
Maine is a partner state with Go NAPSACC, so for providers in Maine to get started you go to: https://gonapsacc.org.
Once there you will click on the green JOIN TODAY button on the upper right-hand corner of your screen.
Click “continue” under the blue Directors and Owners option.
Use registration code: 089vb5tt0le2x2z
Once you have joined Go NAPSACC you can log back in at any time. Remember this resource works because it allows you to continually access and grow your practices around healthy habits.
For more information contact Marissa White, Program Assistant at MCD Public Health / firstname.lastname@example.org / 207-622-7566 ext230
This post is sharing some resources that the PLC came across as we gathered material to respond to a provider’s request for materials that could be shared with parents around Autism. Providers are encouraged to check out the links shared here to increase their own awareness of early signs of autism, as well as, for sharing with the appropriate families of children in their care.
For providers looking to send in written testimony on any Bills before committees this legislative session just a reminder that you can do that easily online.
Maine put a new online system in place in April, 2019 to make it easier to submit written testimony on Public Hearings for Bills. This systemprovides 24/7 access to an online submission form through the Maine Legislature’s website at https://www.mainelegislature.org/testimony. This system distributes electronic testimony to the committee members, analyst and clerk. Testimony is also included as part of the public record for committee meetings.
Reminder: Do not include personal information that you do not want made public.
If you have considered going through the NAFCC Accreditation process for your program now is the time to get information on the process and support available to you.
The PLC is passing along this message from Tammy Dwyer, MRTQ-PDN District Coordinator:
My name is Tammy Dwyer and I am a Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network, (MRTQ PDN) District Coordinator for York County.
If you have interest in learning more about the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) Accreditation process and the resources here in Maine to support those quality improvement efforts, we have informational meetings planned for providers.
The MRTQ PDN NAFCC Accreditation informational meetings have been set for:
1/26 from 6 – 7:30 pm or
2/25 from 6:30-8:00
During our meeting, we will briefly discuss the NAFCC Accreditation process and requirements, plus MRTQ PDN technical assistance resources/ supports.
The Maine Department of Education has released a new PreK-12th grade Social Emotional Learning curriculum: SEL4ME. This offering is free, comprehensive, CASEL aligned and trauma informed. This is Maine’s first, state owned and free, PreK-12th grade Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum. SEL4ME is structured to be used as a Primary Prevention and Trauma Informed practice.
Professionals with 50+ years of experience in education, student/parent engagement and staff/administrator professional development have developed SEL4ME lessons to aligned with industry established best practices. The lessons include over 450 modules that cover PreK-12 scaffolded by grade. The SEL4ME content will continue to be edited, and added to.
Through our work with children of all ages, family child care providers understand the importance of Social Emotional Learning standards being integrated into our curriculum/program. Children need to develop these skills for the positive impacts on their future both for academic success and becoming positive members in their community. While family child care providers are familiar with the Social Emotional Learning standards within the Infant/Toddler Guidelines and the MELDS, the SEL4ME curriculum is an additional support they might find beneficial for their programs.
You will need to register and set up an account to access these resources. For family child care providers who work with Pre-K through school-age when you register you can list yourself as a “Private School”.
Kellie Bailey, MDOE Social Emotional Learning Specialist will be offering training and support for the new SEL4ME curriculum: Tuesdays 7-8PM and Thursdays 3-4:00PM, beginning Dec. 1, 2020.