Posted in ECE Information

2021 Virtual ECE Conference is Almost Here!

FCCAM encouraged providers to register for this virtual conference even if they could not attend it “live” as access to most of the presentations will be available for one year after the conference ends!

The 2021 virtual conference will be accessed through a platform called, PheedLoop. If you registered for the conference, on Monday, October 18th you’ll receive an email from PheedLoop giving you access to the virtual platform.  Whether you planned to attend “live” or access recorded presentations at a later time, go in an set up your conference profile, add a picture if you want, and explore the platform a bit. Learn more about PheedLoop and get acquainted with the virtual platform with this helpful video: PheedLoop Virtual Attendee Training

Even for those that had not planned to attend “live” you might find that you now can depending on your day’s schedule as you do NOT have to pre-register for sessions, you can just join in real time. There will be opportunities to connect and network with speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors, win prizes and books based on your participation in the virtual platform, and opportunities for real time video chats with Vendors and Exhibitors. 

For those that arranged to have a day or two at the conference we want you to also know that if you see presentations of interest scheduled at the same time, in most cases no worries, attend one “live” and watch the other as a recorded presentation.

** If your interest is in the Lisa Murphy workshops on Saturday at 10:30-12:00 and 1:00-2:30, these are not being recorded. You need to attend them “live”.

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

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 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

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: 


  • 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 ECE Information, Professional Development

Bangor ECE Conference Planned for Oct is going Virtual

The Maine Early Childhood Conference planning team is working on a process that will move this year’s event from in-person to virtual. We are planning for the virtual conference to take place on the same days, October 22nd and 23rd. We will be in touch next week with more information, but in the meantime, we wanted you to know about this decision right away so that those who have booked hotel rooms can cancel without penalty.

For those who may have booked rooms at the Fairfield Inn or Residence Inn, please be sure to cancel by the end of the day tomorrow, Wednesday, September 1st.

For those staying in other hotels, we recommend you cancel ASAP, and let them know this is COVID-related.

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. Stay tuned for more details and information.

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
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?

Posted in Business Practice, DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

A Conversation with Licensing Around the FCC Rule

The Professional Learning Committee recently met with Licensing Supervisors, Pattie Collins and Jennifer Welch. This meeting was a chance to ask about the process behind the FCC Licensing Rule and to get clarification on regulations that have been raising questions among providers old and new.

We started out passing along some simple editing notes providers had shared with us:

  • Section 8/Training A(10):  “Transportation of Children (if the individual will be responsible for the transportation of children; required biannually thereafter) 

This training is required every 2 years, not twice a year. “biannually” is an editing error and will be corrected in the final printing.

  • Section 2-G misnumbering after 8

We pointed out our note on this in the “Licensing Rule”. They were aware of this and noted it was listed for correction.

Then we asked for clarification around the changes for immunizations. The changes having to do with immunizations are driven by the new Maine Vaccine Exemptions Law which requires all DOE and DHHS rules to be amended to fit under this law in regards to only medical exemptions being acceptable for lack of immunization by Sept 1, 2021. This exemption applies to both children attending child care and adults providing child care. So yes,

  • All children need to have complete immunization records on file, even school-age.
  • All adults providing care need to be immunized and their records also on file.

Maine Child Care Immunization Standards

Maine-AAP vaccination exemption form for child care.

“Properly immunized” for adults means Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccination (Tdap) and Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) for those born after 1956..  More information about adult vaccination schedules can be found here: Adult Immunization Schedule by Vaccine and Age Group | CDC

Next we discussed what was meant by a provider handbook for staff vs a manual in Licensing Requirements and Procedures 2:G7. This requirement is causing a lot of anger/frustration among providers that are sole providers and we wanted to be sure the information we have been and will provide is correct.

We shared examples from FCCAM’s “Licensing Rule” and from a provider’s business website. The examples are for a sole provider without staff or volunteers who closes when they cannot provide care. Language samples also covered what would happen if that changes. Individual policies included provider/staff/house member as appropriate when referring to who had responsibility to carry out a policy. What Licensing made clear is that sole providers do not need a separate staff handbook or manual as long as they make it clear to parents that they work alone, they will comply with regulations about staff if that changes, and their policies clearly state who has responsibility to carry out the policy as required in rule.

In reading the Licensing Rule, you will notice that many of the policies listed for the parent handbook and the staff handbook are duplicated. If you have one handbook you need to be sure to have a policy for everything listed for the staff manual as well. 

If you have staff and your parent handbook is written in such a way that this policy also applies to staff, you can use your parent handbook.  If your current parent handbook does not have the required policies, you can either add the additional policies needed or if you feel the policies are really only meant for employees to see then create a smaller separate handbook for staff.  

Again, providers need to be sure to have a policy for everything listed for the staff manual. Policies shared with parents need to be clear about who has responsibility within the policy language. With that a separate manual is not needed.

From a quick review of the Licensing Rule Toolkit, Licensing felt the general format appeared to covering the Rule, Licensing’s responses and FCCAM resources. We also explained that the PLC is taking opportunities to raise awareness of best practices by adding suggestions for providers to add to Rule requirements for items such as the sunscreen policy by including bug spray also.

We shared our inclusion of the spreadsheets for 3 checklists that providers seem to be asking for: Records need / Handbook / and Staff

Licensing informed us that Licensing Specialists are informing fcc providers of the website and the Licensing Rule tool.

Under Section 7(F)(1) The Provider and All Staff Members must have a high school diploma or equivalent, be attending high school, or be enrolled in a General Educational Development (GED) preparation program. This requirement was consistent in Rules prior to 2017, but not in the 2017 Rule. This requirement on education level is not Maine statute, so it is possible to get a waiver. 

Licensing wants to be sure that providers are aware that they need to be registered with Maine Roads to Quality and each program must sign up for the Maine Quality Rating System.  

The PLC and Licensing then talked about the process that happened for this Rule and should be happening for Rule proposals. There has been a good deal of questioning about provider input and the timeline for this Rule, especially with everything providers have dealt with this past year around COVID.

Let’s start with why Licensing doesn’t answer question about the proposed Rule. Legally, once the public is informed of the proposed Rule Licensing can only take questions during the public comment period through the process in place (email address set up for comments/question) until the Rule is in effect. They cannot respond directly to those questions about the Rule only about the rule making process until after Rule is in effect. 

Each Administration can impose additional restrictions on development of rules.  

Federal requirements can also impact stakeholder engagement because of shortened or limited timelines. 

In building any new Rule outdated requirements need to be removed or adapted to comply with current child care standards. 

The Rule is impacted by statutes from across Maine law.

In Maine there are 3 Rules that cover the child care system: FCC, Facility (which will combine Centers and Nursery schools once in effect) and Background Checks. The Background Checks Rule is separate because of how it is covered in state law/statutes. 

The best practice is to have Rule revision every couple of years, with ongoing review. The Department goal is to have all Rules – FCC and Facility all align and that all three rules are updated on a regular basis. This would support consistency. Alignment has not been the previous practice. 

Our conversation with Licensing was only able to touch on a few items. While we picked the ones raising the most questions, please remember there are many other changes to the Rule as well, and you are best served by reading the Rule.

If you haven’t gotten to 2(G)(8 and 10), please be aware you need a new policy around mandated reporting. Just listing you are a mandated reporter is no longer enough.

We hope this post has clarified some areas of concern. Please know you can reach out to the PLC at any time.

Posted in DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information, Legislation

Child Care Provider Stabilization Grants

notice from OCFS ~

Congress approved the Child Care Stabilization Grants appropriated in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) (Public Law 117-2) signed into law on March 11, 2021. The nationwide funding includes $23.975 billion in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to provide grants to providers assist with stabilizing child care across the nation.
Maine has received $73 million from that total for ARP Act Stabilization Grant funds. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) will distribute the grants to child care providers to stabilize Maine’s child care market.

Who is eligible?

All licensed child care providers and Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) license-exempt, nonrelative providers are eligible to apply. Approved grantees will receive monthly payments. Total payments are 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
  • CSP providers
    • $150 per month
  • Providing nontraditional hours of care
    • 6PM to 6AM or weekend hours will receive $100 per month
  • Staff bonuses
    • $200 per staff per month and funds must be paid directly to staff

What are the eligibility requirements?

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

What are allowable uses of funds?

Grant funds are meant to cover COVID-related costs for the following:

  • Personnel costs – include but not limited to
    • Hazard pay or bonuses to staff
    • Sign on bonuses
    • Increased staff wages
  • 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

Who do I contact?

For questions regarding your status on any of following contact:

  • License status please contact your Children’s Licensing and Investigation Services Licensing Specialist
  • For information on Vendor Codes contact Vickie Bussey at (207) 624-7909 or
  • CCSP provider status contact OCFS CCSP at 1-877-680-5866 or Augusta: (207) 624- 7999 or email:
  • Quality for ME certificate status contact Vickie Bussey at (207) 624-7909 or
  • Maine Roads to Quality Registry contact MRTQ at 1-888-900-0055 or
  • Health and safety training status for yourself or your staff contact Vickie Bussey at (207) 624-7909 or
Stay tuned for updates on when and how to apply!