Posted in Business Practice, ECE Information, Legislation

Providers It’s Time to Add Your Voices!

We are the ones with the first hand knowledge of what our day is filled with. What services we provide families in caring for their children. What is needed for our businesses to be sustainable while offering quality care. It is important that as providers we understand that we are continually advocating for our personal small businesses and our early childhood education and care profession with every contact we have with potential clients, members of our communities and the families receiving our serves.

The FCCAM Public Policy Committee understands how important it is to also be providing our knowledge about our profession to the legislators writing, hearing and adopting Bills that directly impact our small businesses. Legislators are open to hearing our thoughts and respect that we have first-hand knowledge about the issues we are speaking to. We know it’s almost impossible for providers to offer in-person testimony, but you can provide written testimony very easily through  Maine’s online/digital submission of testimony option.

FCCAM believes it’s important for all providers to become informed and lend their voices to the discussion on the Bills that can impact our small businesses and the education and care we provide children. 

There are currently 2 Bills that will have impact on our profession that have been printed with public hearings scheduled for May 10th. Written testimony needs to be received by May 9th, so committees have it prior to the public hearing. FCCAM is submitting written testimony in support of these Bills, but we encourage providers to read the Bills and submit testimony themselves.

FCCAM believes strongly that:

  • Child care is the workforce behind Maine’s workforce.  
  • Without child care, parents cannot go to work or go to work full time.  That hurts their families, businesses’ production and Maine’s economy.

So what’s in these bills?

Following are some of keys points that have been shared by a variety of organizations FCCAM partners with around Public Policy and Advocacy for family child care.

LD 1726: An Act to Build Maine’s Economy by Supporting Child Care for Working Families – Sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson will be heard by the Health and Human Services Committee.

Just a few of the reasons FCCAM supports this Bill:

  • Seeks to increase the monthly wage supplement for child care providers to $400 a month
  • Continues to reimburse child care providers who accept subsidy based on enrollment, not attendance
  • Increases child care subsidy eligibility for families from 85% state median income to 125% state median household income
  • Creates a scholarship program for child care providers’ children needing child care
  • Works towards a Cost of Care Model – The estimator tool must be publicly accessible. Reflect the true cost of providing child care which would include:
    • A. Include a living wage compensation scale for early childhood educators pursuant to the recommendations of the Child Care Task Force established in section 3740-E;
    • B. Include regional differences in costs;
    • C. Include employee salaries and benefits;
    • D. Include facility costs;
    • E. Include costs associated with compliance with statutory and rule requirements, including the child care quality rating system participation under section 3737, subsection 3 and specific costs associated with each step of the rating system and any quality indicators used
  • Renames Child Care Subsidy Program to Child Care Scholarship Program
  • Increases state funding for Head Start programs
  • Make internal and more timely Office of Children and Family Services’ processes and payments 
  • Establishes a Child Care Task Force that consists of 14 members – 2 of which would be fcc providers.
  • Establishes an independent appeals process for child care providers regarding OCFS licensing decisions
  • Develop a long-term plan for limiting child care costs for families to no more than 7% of income for families earning up to 250% of state median income beginning in 2030

Here is a sample testimony format for LD 1726:

Testimony of _____________________

In support of LD 1726 An Act to Build Maine’s Economy by Supporting Child Care and Working Families

Senator Baldacci, Representative Meyer, and distinguished members of the Health and Human Services Committee, my name is ______________________ and I am (share who you represent or if you are a parent of young children). I’m testifying in support of LD 1726 An Act to Build Maine’s Economy by Supporting Child Care and Working Families. 

Share why you support and use personal examples and/or data. You can speak to some of the questions below:

Why do you support raising child care educator wages?

Why do you support Maine developing a cost model tool that better supports our understanding of what it costs to provide quality care and education?

Why do you support raising subsidy eligibility for Maine’s lower income families?

Why do you support more stable funding for child care programs by ensuring that subsidy reimbursement covers days when children are absent from their program?

Why do you support Maine developing a long term plan to increase investments in child care programs while also increasing subsidy eligibility?

Why do you support providing funding to pay for child care for child care employees?

Why do you support shortened time periods for determining subsidy eligibility?

Why do you support shortened time periods for child care programs receiving subsidy reimbursement?

LD 1799: An Act to Expand Maine’s High-quality Early Learning and Care for Children by Increasing Public Preschool Opportunities in Communities Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitell will be heard by the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee

2 of our Key takeaways:

  • The department shall establish a working group of stakeholders to explore expansion to full-day preschool and pathways for child care programs to become publicly funded.
  • A new Commission to Study Governance and Funding in Early Care and Early Childhood Education,will include Five representatives of early childhood educators and providers of services for children who are under 5 years of age, 2 appointed by the President of the Senate and 3 appointed by the Speaker of the House.

Here is a sample testimony format for LD 1799:

Testimony of _____________________

In support of LD 1799: An Act to Expand Maine’s High-quality Early Learning and Care for Children by Increasing Public Preschool Opportunities in Communities

Senator Rafferty, Representative Brennan, and distinguished members of the Education and Cultural
Affairs Committee, my name is______________ and I am (share who you represent or if you are a parent of young children). I’m testifying in support of LD 1799: An Act to Expand Maine’s High-quality Early Learning and Care for Children by Increasing Public Preschool Opportunities in Communities.

Share your why…………….

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.

Apply Now!

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 ECE Information, Legislation

How to Submit Testimony for a Public Hearing

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 system provides 24/7 access to an online submission form through the Maine Legislature’s website at 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.

How to use this online submission process:

  • Access the page to submit testimony online
  • Choose the committee
  • Choose the date/time of the public hearing
  • Check the bill for which you plan to provide testimony from the list provided.
  • Cut and paste your testimony or attach a file.
  • Supply your name, town/organization, and email address.

If you are planning to provide “live” testimony at the hearing you are able to mark that off as part of this form.

This is what you will see:

Read the Submission and Signup Guidelines

Links to the online submission form are available on both the Maine State Legislature home page and individual committee pages. Notice the “Testimony Submission” button at the very bottom of the page.

For questions or assistance, you can always contact the Legislative Information Office at 287-1692.

More of Maine’s child care providers have been regularly engaging with Maine’s elected officials. Our voices are being heard.