Posted in Business Practice, DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

ARPA is ending. Wage Supplements Remain!

UPDATE/CORRECTION 3/8/23 ~ This is why it’s good to have partnerships with other organizations that support children and families. FCCAM received clarification around the wage program becoming Law under LD 1995, not LD 1652. Also credentials and articulation agreements language not included in the budget language. We have corrected information in this post.

With the ending of the ARPA Grant payments (includes transition payments) providers have raised questions about the $200 payment continuing and the need to be registered. Through this post FCCAM is hoping to provide some information that will provide some answers. FCCAM is not rendering legal or tax advice, just general information. If you require more specific assistance, please consult a legal or tax preparation professional.

Let’s start with the letter some providers received telling them they have to sign up for the program. Just as providers had the option with the ARPA Grant funds, we do not know if you “have to take” the money. We do know that to receive the wage supplement you do need to register. Information on that follows later in the post.

This is a state program and not tied to federal funds. It is now part of the annual budgeting, so this wage supplement should be ongoing. The $200 amount may change when the tiers are established. The tiers are required to consider experience, and education.

Providers have again expressed concerns about the tax impact if they take the wage supplement. Tom Copeland advocated to take funding like this using an example something like: If someone offered you $100 if you would give $30 to someone else would you take it pocketing $70? The supplement is money coming to you that you would not normally have. At 30% for taxes you pocket around $140. $140 per month for a year is $1680. That’s money you can put away for your children in something like the Maine’s NextGen 529 accounts, or for your retirement (Simple IRA plans), spend on special projects for your business, pay off personal credit cards/loans or just have fun with. Unlike the ARPA the wage supplement has no strings attached about how the money is used and accounted for.

While you might not want to think about retirement that is a great business practice for self-employed small business owners. It’s important to also understand how your retirement is impacted by the Social Security taxes you pay figured off your net earnings from self-employment. Many providers are expecting it to be figured off their total income before business deductions. FCCAM posted previously on how Social Security works: Your Social Security Benefit: How It’s Figured.

A basic review of how federal tax brackets work. Tax brackets divide your income into levels that are taxed at different rates. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) updates federal tax rates, allowances, and thresholds every year. There are seven federal tax brackets for tax year 2022: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%. The rates stayed the same, but the income thresholds for all tax brackets increased in 2022 to reflect the rise in inflation. These rates apply to taxable income, which is your gross income after you’ve subtracted the standard deduction or allowable itemized deductions.

Being in one tax bracket doesn’t mean all of your income is taxed at that rate, every bracket is taxed at its own rate. Your standard deduction is determined by your filing status and stays the same regardless of your income. Example: Married, filing jointly with a gross income of $80,000 in 2022. Subtracting the standard deduction of $25,900. Taxable income for 2022 would be $54,100. That puts you in the 12% tax bracket. To calculate your tax bill you’ll pay 10% on the first $20,500 of your income and 12% on the remaining.


Wage Supplement Program

In April 2022, Governor Mills signed the supplemental budget (LD 1995) which included more than $12 million in ongoing state General Fund dollars to increase pay for early childhood educators who are providing direct care. Now Maine has The Maine Early Childhood Workforce Salary Supplement Program“. The program is open to all child care providers and early childhood educators who provide direct services to children in licensed child care facilities or licensed family child care.

The budget also included $200,000 to support CTE early childhood education program.

Background ~ LD 1652 was important in building support for strengthening the child care workforce in Maine and providing quality programs for families to access. While LD 1652 received strong support through the legislative process, with the Governor writing the wage stipend program into the budget LD 1652 just went away. Language from LD 1652 around credentials and articulation agreements were not included in the budget language.

§3737-A. Early childhood educator workforce salary supplements

“The department shall develop and implement a system to provide salary supplements to child care providers and early childhood educators who provide direct services to children in a child care facility licensed under section 8301‑A, subsection 2 or who are family child care providers licensed under section 8301‑A, subsection 3. Any salary supplement funding provided by the department under this section to a child care facility or family child care provider must be paid by that child care facility or family child care provider in order to increase wages for any child care provider or early childhood educator who provides direct services to children.   [PL 2021, c. 635, Pt. RR, §1 (NEW).]”

To be clear family child care providers qualify for this wage supplement and need to count themselves when registering.

The monthly supplement will eventually be based on each individual provider’s level of education and experience. The agreed to language asked for the structure to be tiered. Currently anyone registered with the program who is providing direct care to children is receiving $200 per month.

“Until June 30, 2023, a child care facility or family child care provider shall distribute salary supplements received under this section in the same amount to any child care provider or early childhood educator who provides direct services to children employed by the facility or provider. Beginning July 1, 2023, the department shall establish by rule and shall implement a tiered system for salary supplements under this section. The rules must provide, at a minimum, 3 tiers based on the education and experience levels of child care providers and early childhood educators. The 2nd tier must provide a salary supplement that is at least 50% greater than the first tier and the 3rd tier must provide a salary supplement that is at least 50% greater than the 2nd tier. Rules adopted under this section are routine technical rules pursuant to Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2‑A.   [PL 2021, c. 635, Pt. RR, §1 (NEW).]”

The Early Childhood Educator Workforce Salary Supplement Program is administered by Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) through the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS). The Wage Supplement Program began paying registered providers for direct care provided in September 2022.

  • Providers who have previously received ARPA Child Care Stabilization grant payments received an email with a link and an access code to their personal registration form.
  • Providers who did NOT receive ARPA Child Care Stabilization grant payments need to register for the wage supplement program.
  • Providers must have a valid Vendor Code with OCFS to register.
    • For information on Vendor Codes contact Vickie Bussey at (207) 624-7909 or Vickie.Bussey@maine.gov
  • Providers will need to fill out the information for their program using this registration link:
    https://apps.web.maine.gov/online/childcare_grants/provider/login. Upon submitting the program information, providers will receive an access code via email that will allow them to gain entrance to the Early Childhood Educator Workforce Salary Supplement Program.
  • Once providers are registered with the program, following their first payment, the monthly payments become automatic.

The following link is to a webinar containing guidance and detailed instructions for how to complete the registration: https://video.maine.edu/media/Early+Childhood+Educator+Workforce+Salary+Supplement+Pro
gram+Webinar/1_19z3x0ek



For questions or more information about the Wage Supplement Program, please contact ECEWageProgram.DHHS@Maine.gov

Early Childhood Educator Workforce Salary Supplement Program Contacts:

Diane Nicholson, Early Care & Education Specialist
Tel: (207) 624-7996
e-mail: Diane.Nicholson@maine.gov

Crystal Arbour, Child Care Program Manager
Tel: (207) 626-8683
e-mail: Crytsal.Arbour@maine.gov

Posted in DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

Help Me Grow Maine

Help Me Grow (HMG Maine) is a new program in Maine under DHHS that is available at no cost to all Maine children birth to eight and their families/caregivers.

HMG Maine requires no formal referral from a professional, no diagnostic criteria, and no paperwork to complete to begin the process.

HMG Maine is now available statewide!

Support can be accessed by both families and providers by:


The purpose of Maine adopting the HMG program is to build a better central access point that connects Maine families with children prenatal to eight to reliable information, community resources, existing serves about child development and provides follow-up.

HGM Maine works in partnership with 2-1-1 and is an affiliate of the National Help Me Grow Network

In Maine communities, there are quality early learning opportunities, health care services, agencies that supply parent support, and other types of resources that help children thrive. HMG Maine will be working to set up partnerships that work across sectors to best serve children and families within the state of Maine.

HMG Maine will maintain a current directory of available services and will connect service providers to each other to create an interconnected system.


From HGM informational releases:

Reasons to reach out to HMG Maine include:

  • You are working with a family that needs additional supports, but you are unsure what they are eligible for/where to refer them.
  • A family needs support in navigating the system of services to connect with a program or resource (CDS, Targeted Case Management, Early Care and Education settings, etc.).
  • You would like to speak as a professional with a resource specialist about what resources are available for a family you are working with, or about resources in your area in general.
  • You would like a child to receive a developmental and/or social-emotional screening through Ages and Stages Questionnaires®.
Posted in ECE Information

Providers – 5 Minutes of Your Time is Needed

FCCAM previously posted a Jan. 27th release from Maine Office of Child and Family Services that shared the Bipartisan Policy Center Reports Child Care Improvements in Maine.

Maine Public (MPBS/Radio) has a responding Feb 1st post New analysis counts 280 fewer child care facilities in Maine over two-year period.

Discussion raised with these posts has to do with licensed capacity over the reality of children being served. As providers we know first hand that licensed capacity doesn’t necessarily truly reflect the number of children we are serving. It’s important to have timely data that reflects the complete picture of child care in Maine.

FCCAM is sharing a short survey developed by MaineAEYC to try and collect this data. We are reaching out across the field to ask providers to PLEASE help!


In order to influence positive change in Maine child care, we need to have accurate numbers to share with leaders about the current state of the child care sector. Could you help us by filling out this quick, 5 minute survey? 

This is a RAPID survey collecting point in time data for the first week of February. It will help if you have your attendance, enrollment, and staff data in front of you for February 1st while you fill out the survey. For anyone who oversees multiple sites, please make sure this is filled out separately for each location. Please complete by February 7th.

All data is anonymous. Data will be shared back to the field. THANK YOU!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ME_rapidchildcaresurvey_Feb2023

OR


Posted in DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information, Professional Development

Writing Teams and Targeted Reviewers needed for update of the Maine Early Learning and Development Standards

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.

The MELDS Steering Committee is now accepting applications from individuals interested in being part of the review process to serve as participants on one of the writing teams, or as a targeted reviewer.  The Steering Committee is seeking professionals in the field of Early Care and Education that work or have worked with or on behalf of children

Prospective participants must apply by clicking HERE no later than February 21, 2023.


FAQ sheet to understand the details of participation:

Q: What are the Maine Early Learning Development Standards (MELDS)?

A: Early Learning and Development Standards describe the concepts and skills children develop and learn along the developmental continuum from birth to kindergarten entry. Their purpose is to support the development and well-being of young children and to foster their learning. 

The standards promote the understanding of early learning and development, provide a comprehensive and coherent set of early childhood educational expectations for children’s development and learning, and guide the design and implementation of curriculum, assessment, and instructional practices with young children. 

Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards (MELDS) serve as a guide for state and local early childhood educators’ efforts to improve practice and programs for young children during their preschool years.  The Infant/Toddler MELDS is a companion tool for ages birth-36 months. 

Q: Who should consider participating? 

A: In order to develop an evidence-based set of standards, we are seeking a diverse population of professionals from the Early Care and Education (ECE) field:

  • Child Care and School Administrators 
  • Child Care Health Consultants
  • Child Care Providers and staff of all licensed programs (family, small facility, facility, nursery school, out of school time programs)
  • Child Care Providers and staff from licensed exempt programs
  • Early educators within the school setting (Pre-K through 3rd grade)
  • Ed Techs
  • English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Professionals
  • Head Start staff
  • Higher education professionals and their students within or specializing in the ECE/ECS field
  • Individuals that provide professional development to the Early Care and Education field 
  • Parents, Guardians, Caregivers, or Family Members
  • Special Education Teachers / Specialists
  • Student and School Support Specialists: Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapists, School Counselors, School Social Workers, Interventionists, Title I staff
  • Other professionals serving families of young children  

Q: What are writing teams and what is the time commitment? 

A: Each of the domains of development will need a team of professionals to review content for relevance and alignment to current research in order for the MELDS to provide early childhood educators with guidance as they design inclusive environments, shape curriculum, lead professional development initiatives, build intentionality into teaching practice, engage families, and support children’s learning at home.  The domains include:  

  • Social and Emotional Development
    • Goal Areas: Trust and emotional security, self-regulation; sense of self, self-awareness, and self-concept, relationships with adults, relationships with children
  • Approaches to Learning
    • Goal Areas: Engagement and persistence, initiative and curiosity, creativity
  • Early Language and Literacy
    • Goal Areas: Language comprehension (receptive language), language expression (Expressive/productive communication), emergent literacy
  • Physical Development and Health
    • Goal Areas: Perceptual development, gross motor (large muscle), fine motor (small muscle), self-help and adaptive skills
  • Cognitive Development
    • Goal Areas: exploration and inquiry, concept development and working memory, reflection and problem solving, mathematical thinking, scientific reasoning, social studies learning

In addition to the domains of development, there are additional sections of the document that will need review.  Those sections include:  

  • Introduction, History, Key Components of an Early Learning Standards, 
  • Purpose Statement and Potential Users, Guiding Principles and Universal Design for Learning
  • Introduction to the Stages of Development Ages 3-5

Time Commitment: The facilitator(s) for each writing team will determine the time necessary for both whole group and individual review. Participants should expect this to be no more than two hours per week. Writing teams will convene in March and work through June.

Q: What are targeted reviewers and what is the time commitment?

A:  Targeted reviewers will review the updated sections provided to them and offer structured feedback. Targeted reviewers will begin review once the initial updates have been made to provide feedback to the Steering Committee.   

The time commitment will be less for targeted reviewers than writing team participants, however the  window for review and feedback will be shorter and more time sensitive (approximate document turnaround time of two weeks).

Q: What will I earn in exchange for my time and expertise?

A: Not only will individuals be afforded an opportunity to participate in furthering the field of Early Care and Education, but each participant will also be awarded contact hours at the completion of the writing team cycle based on attendance and at the discretion of the team leader.

Contact hours may be used for furthering education, documentation of professional development experiences, or for continuing education credits (CEUs) and/or training hour conversion. 

Q: Why is periodic updating of learning and development standards important?

A: Research in the field of early care and education is constantly evolving.  A regular process of updating early learning and development standards helps to ensure their validity and alignment with other sets of standards across the birth to grade 12 spans.  The updated MELDS will result in a child-centered tool that will inform program development, instruction, assessment, policy decisions, and professional learning for early care and education efforts across Maine. 

Q: What is the overall timeline for the MELDS revision?

A: MELDS revision began in the Fall of 2022 with the creation of the Steering Committee. This group has been meeting regularly to discuss the current format of Maine’s MELDS as well as to review feedback from the field, other states’ Early Learning and Development Standards and national research trends/findings. The remaining work is set to unfold on the following timeline:

January-February 2023: Recruit writing team members and targeted reviewers

February 2023: Assign Steering Committee members and teams to review the current standards

March-June 2023: Teams will work to review terminology, assure alignment to Maine’s Infant/Toddler MELDS and to the Maine Learning Results, and review for readability, diversity, inclusion and ease of use

July-August 2023: A final version will be translated and introduced to the field for further use


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 First4ME Program Manager, Megan.Swanson@maine.gov

Posted in DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

Bipartisan Policy Center Reports Child Care Improvements in Maine

Maine Office of Child and Family Services release ~


January 27, 2023

Child care access and integration with early childhood education increased significantly in Maine between 2019 and 2022, according to a new analysis and report by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC).

In October 2020, BPC released a report, Child Care in 25 States: What We Know and Don’t Know, that included interactive maps quantifying the supply of, and need for, child care. Maine was among the first of the participating states to provide updated data, with the new analysis showing the overall gap between capacity and demand in Maine has decreased from 4,921 slots to 3,079 slots since 2020, a 34 percent improvement.

While this reduction is a significant improvement and represents one of the smallest gaps in the states that BPC has reviewed, the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) remains committed to closing the child care gap in Maine. It also recognizes that some of the narrowing of this gap results from fewer families seeking child care, U.S. census data. OCFS, along with the Children’s Cabinet, continues its aggressive policy work to expand capacity and support child care workers so all parents who need it can access quality child care.

BPC also this month released a report showing Maine has improved from 16th to 10th in state rankings on integration of early care and education. The improvement is primarily attributed to the change made in 2019 to move child care licensing under the purview of OCFS. Creating an Integrated Efficient Early Care and Education System to Support Children and Families: A State-by-State Analysis offers a window into the opportunities — and challenges — in administering comprehensive Early Care and Education (ECE) systems.

This progress reflects significant and ongoing work consistent with the Child Care Plan for Maine, including:

  • Distributing over $72 million in stabilization grants to help providers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Distributing an additional $13.6 million in transition grants to aid providers as the stabilization grants concluded
  • Establishing Child Care Infrastructure Grants, which are forecasted to add thousands of new licensed child care slots throughout the state
  • Distributing salary supplement payments to over 1,500 child care facilities and family child care providers to support their workforce
  • Assisting low-income families by waiving Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) parent fees for families at or below 60 percent of the State Median Income
Posted in DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

Health Insurance Options through Maine Marketplace

Maine Office of Child and Family Services Jan. 5, 2023 memo ~

Attention Early Care and Education Providers,

Open Enrollment ends on January 15th!

The Department of Health and Human Services has recorded a webinar to assist Early Care and Education providers in navigating available health coverage options and tools to assist with selecting a health insurance plan.

You can now visit CoverME.gov, Maine’s Health Insurance Marketplace, to shop for and select an affordable health insurance plan for 2023.

At CoverME.gov, Mainers can compare private plans, apply for financial assistance, and enroll in a 2023 health plan. Health plans offered on CoverME.gov provide quality, comprehensive insurance that covers preventative screenings and provides financial protection in case of accident or major illness.

Early care educators often face struggles with obtaining affordable health insurance. The 2023 Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment Period, which ends January 15th, provides an opportunity for these educators to obtain affordable health insurance coverage.

With the expanded subsidies available to individuals under the American Rescue Plan, uninsured early care educators may be able to obtain Marketplace coverage with premiums as low as a few dollars a month. Medicaid expansion in participating states, like Maine, offers another opportunity for some educators to obtain coverage. These programs provide important pathways to ensure financial stability and protect the health and wellbeing of those who educate and care for the Maine’s children.

We encourage you to explore CoverME.gov for more information and thank you for your continued dedication to Maine’s children and families.

Posted in ECE Information, Professional Development

Call for York County ECE Conference Proposals

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. 

Early Childhood topics typically include: 

  • Growth & Development
  • Play
  • Curriculum (Art, Blocks, Dramatic Play, Literacy, Math, Music & Movement, Science)
  • Behavior
  • Diversity & Multiculturalism
  • Inclusion & Special Education
  • Trauma & Mental Health
  • Health, Safety, and Nutrition
  • Family Relationships
  • Professional Development & Mentoring
  • Program Types (family child care, multi-age, center based, public, Montessori, Waldorf, faith-based, etc.)

We would like to expand our topics to include:

  • Brain Development
  • Therapy (speech and language, occupational, physical)
  • Career pathways
  • Available Community Resources 
  • Bookkeeping, insurance, budgeting
  • Retirement
  • Self-care
  • And MORE!

Please consider sharing your expertise and enthusiasm, your WHY, to inspire others in the field of Early Care & Education! Please complete and submit your proposal by Monday, November 28, 2022.

Proposal Form

Posted in ECE Information

MELDS Revision

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 survey no 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

Posted in Business Practice, ECE Information, Legislation, Opening a FCC

Grant Program to Help Child Care Businesses Start or Expand Announced

July 6, 2022 ~

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.

The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to achieve three goals: immediate economic recovery from the pandemic; long-term economic growth for Maine; and infrastructure revitalization. It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.


Maine State Child Care Infrastructure Grant Program (all this material has been gathered from the CEI website) ~

Priority Areas

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

Funds Usage

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

Applications are currently being accepted for:

* as permitted by Family Child Care Provider Licensing Rule and Day Care & Nursery School Requirements

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.

Application Process

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.

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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.

Posted in Business Practice, ECE Information, MRTQ-PDN

What’s Important About “SHORTcuts”?

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: jennifer.wiles@maine.edu. Be sure to adjust your email’s recognition of this, so the email doesn’t sit in your spam box.