Posted in Legislation

New Child Care & Early Education Reconciliation Proposal for Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Funds

Hopes of enacting the child care plan passed by the House vanished when talks over Build Back Better collapsed in the Senate in December. Federal advocacy efforts by many national stakeholders with an interest in child care continued. Those efforts have lead to the investments in support of child care and pre-k being included in the federal budget reconciliation package the Senate is now discussing.

MaineAEYC has a letter of support that will be sent to Senator Susan Collins and Senator Angus King. You can SIGN ON HERE.  The body of the letter follows:

“Maine has made important investments in child care educators and expanding child care for families in this year’s state budget. However, Maine, on its own, cannot make the transformative expansions needed to make affordable, high-quality child care accessible for every family, and make strides toward paying the child care workforce a wage that is representative of the skills and responsibilities for caring and educating the state’s youngest population. Child care is an issue that greatly impacts Maine residents, and crosses geographical, economic, and social demographics.

Maine has experienced a 19% decrease in its number of child care educators since 2019 and 141 providers have closed permanently. Even among the providers that have reopened, many are operating at reduced capacity, due to COVID-related precautions and/or staff shortages.

The average median child care wage is $29,000 a year placing the workforce among the lowest earners in Maine and bottom 2% of earners across the U.S. When early care and education programs can’t keep qualified teachers,  children, families and the economy suffer.

Child care is one of the largest monthly bills for families with children with an average cost of around $800 per month ($9,600 per year) for one child in a program in 2021, making child care unaffordable for nearly all Maine families. This crisis has only grown during the Covid 19 pandemic, exacerbating an already untenable situation for working families.

In Maine, 22% of all residents live in a child care desert. Child care supply is especially low among certain populations, with 26% of Hispanic/Latino families, 26% of rural families, and 38% of low-income families living in areas without enough licensed child care providers. In Maine, 77% mothers of young children participate in the labor force.

We need Congress to act swiftly to address the child care crisis in Maine through the budget and reconciliation process. We can’t continue to invest in one part of the system at the expense of the other. Investments must value the role of the early childhood educators by raising compensation and benefits, support quality in programs, and address the high costs for families. We must reject the notion that children’s education and development is only worth investing in once they enter a public school. The overwhelming amount of research we have to show that children’s brains develop at a faster rate in the first five years, is a reason alone to invest in quality early learning experiences.

We ask you to not only support these investments but to be a champion for all Maine’s children, families, and early childhood educators. We can make high quality early childhood education affordable and accessible for all Maine’s children and families while also building a child care workforce that is well compensated for the highly skilled work they do.”

Here is a quick look at the child care and early education proposal recently released by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) for inclusion in the
federal budget reconciliation package.

* Triples the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to increase funds to all states.

* Uses CCDBG to fund Supply and Compensation Grants to all states to expand child care supply, improve facilities, and raise compensation for early childhood educators.

* Pilots a Child Care and Development Expansion program for 6 years.  

*  Invests in High-Quality Preschool Grants.

*  Invests in raising wages for Head Start teachers.

Here are more resources about the Murray/Kaine proposal: 

Maine is estimated to receive $26,374,167 annually to invest in increasing access and quality, $8,791,389 annually for wages and supply building for a total of $35,165,556 additional CCDF funding every year for 6 years. 

Posted in ECE Information, Legislation

Purposed Changes to IDEA part B 619 – CDS / Child Development Services

The draft bill: An Act To Reorganize the Provision of Services for Infants, Toddlers, and Children with Disabilities from Birth to 6 Years of Age and Extend the Age of IDEA Eligibility to 22, that has been worked on in the Education Committee purposes that Part B 619 services (Free and Appropriate Public Education) for 3 and 4 year olds would transfer to SAU (School Districts) on July 1st, 2023.

There are many groups that feel the proposal lacks sufficient detail and fails to address significant concerns of stakeholders including child care providers and families. A variety of organizations have expressed their thoughts and are asking that this bill not be adopted right now.

The Legislature’s Education Committee will hold a public hearing on this plan on Wednesday, March 23. You can add your voice by contacting your Senator and Representative and asking them to please slow down the process of transitioning early childhood special education services from the CDS system to School Administrative Units.

We post our testimony and joint testimony with MaineAEYC on this site, but feel it’s important to also provide you with examples of the call to action from other concerned groups. Below find a copy of the Action Alert sent out from Maine Parent Federation. (*The date in the letter for the public hearing is wrongly listed as the 24th. Wednesday is the 23rd.) Following that is information from Maine Children’s Alliance.

—– Original Message Maine Parent Federation —–

Family Voice Needed

Call to Action – Family Voice Needed

Proposed Changes to Child Developmental Services (CDS)

Will Greatly Impact Children with Special Needs Ages 0-5

Maine’s Department of Education (MDOE) has proposed legislation which will greatly impact services delivered by CDS. The proposal lacks sufficient detail, does not address significant concerns of stakeholders, and proposes a timeline that could be devastating for children, families, providers, schools, and taxpayers.

What does the proposal do?

The proposed legislation by MDOE would end CDS’s oversight of a Free & Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and the related services for children ages 3-5 and move both to the local School Administrative Unit (SAU) as of July, 1 2023.

How will this impact your family?

This aggressive timeline does not sufficiently address the impact on children and families. It could mean less parental choice in where and how your child receives services, a compromised Least Restrictive Environment (the ability for your child to receive their services within their community with their typically developing peers), and cause confusing transitions between CDS and local SAU’s. 

There are also no processes for contracting with childcare providers or Head Start centers. This could make obtaining childcare close to home or work challenging.

Finally, there is no detailed plan for SAU readiness which include funding, staffing or transportation. Ensuring that SAUs are ready and able to provide quality services which are appropriate and available is important.

What can you do?

Your voice is critical and time is not on our side. A public hearing will be held next Wednesday, March 24. Please contact your SenatorsRepresentatives and the Educational and Cultural Affairs Committee; when emailing the committee please include Committee Clerk, Elias Murphy.

Your statement does not have to be detailed. Speak to how the changes will impact your family and ask them to slow the process down to explore other options to meet the needs of children without doing harm.

Speak up for Maine’s young children with developmental delays (from Maine Children’s Alliance)
Early intervention can help children make progress toward achievement of age-appropriate developmental milestones, be more prepared for kindergarten and beyond, have more positive interactions with their peers, and reduce the need for services during their school years.  Yet in Maine, too many children haven’t been receiving these services early enough. While some progress has been made since, in 2019-2020, Maine was tied for 50th in the nation for infants receiving early intervention services while our special education rates for older children are one of the highest in the nation. 

Ask legislators to reject proposed legislation to move services to public schools and to instead create a better plan for Child Development Services. 

Tell them to listen to the needs of families and establish an improved system for delivering early intervention services that will better meet the needs of the children and families who depend on them to thrive.
Ask them to: Reject a plan that did not include input from families or the staff of CDS / Eliminate wait lists / Improve identification of children who need early intervention / Bring Maine’s eligibility for infants and toddlers in line with the rest of New England.

As providers we know first hand about the impact of transitions on young children, the importance of team work with families, and the delays in getting services through CDS because of the lack of specialized professional in Maine. We also know how positive IDEA C is for birth – 2 because of the team approach it works from. If you or your families have concerns about the changes that will occur if this bill is adopted, we encourage you to take a few minutes and add your voice.

Posted in ECE Information, Legislation

Add your Voice!

FCCAM’s Public Policy Committee works jointly with MaineAEYC’s Public Policy Committee on issues that impact child care providers in Maine. The following is from MaineAEYC’s 11/17/22 Newsletter ~ It provides information on the legislative process, the difference possible paths for $12 million for child care wages and how you can add your voice.

There are two paths forward for investments in child care educator wages this legislative session.  What does this mean?
* LD 1652 and LD 1995 both have the same language to invest in a child care wage supplement program. 

* LD 1652: An Act to Build a Child Care System by Recruiting and Retaining Maine’s Early Childhood Workforce is sponsored by Speaker Ryan Fecteau and was introduced last legislative session. A public hearing was held and the bill got carried over to this session.  Last week, a work session was held by the IDEA Committee and received unanimous support.  This bill will head to the House and Senate floor for voting. 

LD 1995: An Act To Make Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds is the Supplemental budget proposal from the Mills’ Administration which also included the over $12 million proposal for child care educator wage supplements.  A public hearing was held and the Health and Human Services Committee will report back to the Appropriations Committee their 7-4 to include this proposal in the budget.  The Appropriations Committee will hold a work session likely next week and then the Supplement Budget bill will head to the House and Senate for voting. 

With two paths forward, the wage supplements can either be funded through the budget (this is ideal), or “off the table” which is money left outside of the budget to fund bills. 
What can you do to advocate? 
Over the next few days you can reach out to members of the Appropriations Committee and ask them to support the proposal for over $12 million to invest in child care educator wages in LD 1955.  

You can locate members by scrolling down on the left hand side of their Committee page. Locate a member of the Appropriations Committee
Posted in ECE Information, Legislation

Advocacy Works! Bill to Raise Wages for Child Care Workers Moves Forward!

Maine has a strong coalition that supports children and families. That coalition has worked together the past few years in support of Speaker Ryan Fecteau’s bill: LD 1652: An Act To Build a Child Care System by Recruiting and Retaining Maine’s Early Childhood Educators Workforce. As part of that coalition, FCCAM’s Public Policy Committee has provided insight during coalition work groups into what family child care providers are experiencing, provided written testimony on behalf of FCCAM for legislative committee hearings, and encouraged family child care providers to add their individual voices.

The first week of March the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee received over a 100 submitted written testimonies, and heard additional oral testimonies, in support of the over $12 million proposed in LD 1995 to support wage supplements for child care professionals.

The following was a March 8, 2022 Release from the Office of Governor Janet T. Mills Governor ~

Janet Mills today applauded the Legislature’s Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business (IDEA) for unanimously supporting a bill sponsored by Speaker Ryan Fecteau to raise the wages of Maine’s child care workers. Governor Mills has proposed $12 million to fund the legislation in her supplemental budget to increase pay for child care workers and early childhood educators to strengthen our child care system across Maine.

“We know that lack of quality affordable child care prevents people from taking jobs, from starting new businesses, from moving to rural communities, and it deprives kids of important developmental care. We’ve worked hard to train more child care workers and to pay them what they deserve, and we’ve built new child care facilities and created more child care slots to better serve Maine families, but we can do more,” said Governor Mills. “I support Speaker Fecteau’s proposal to raise the pay of child care workers in Maine, which is why I included funding to get it done in my supplemental budget. I applaud lawmakers for voting unanimously to move this legislation forward and I look forward to continuing to do everything we can for working families across our state.”

In addition to her supplemental budget, Governor Mills is making other historic investments in accessible child care in Maine, including the first-ever Child Care Plan for Maine (PDF) developed by the Office of Child and Family Services that invests approximately $120 million in American Rescue funds to help Maine’s child care system recover and to improve child care quality, accessibility, and affordability over the long-term. With this funding, Governor Mills has already provided $200 monthly stipends to 7,000 child care workers to encourage them to work in this valuable profession.

Separately under her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, Governor Mills is investing another $25 million in federal funds to help renovate, expand, or build new child care facilities and expand early childhood education programs.

These investments build on the Mills Administration’s efforts to support Maine families’ access to child care before and during the pandemic, including helping low-income parents who receive subsidies by waiving their contribution to child care fees, distributing $10 million in federal CARES Act funding directly to providers through stipends and grants, and making available $8.4 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to reimburse providers for COVID-19-related business costs. The state additionally maintains the Child Care Choices website, which allows families to locate and connect with providers in their area.

Posted in Legislation

Support Wages for Child Care Educators

On Monday, February 28th @1pm there will be a public hearing in front of the Appropriations Committee and Health and Human Services Committee for LD 1995 which includes the Supplemental Budget proposal of over $12 million to support child care educator wages.  

FCCAM has sent written testimony in support of this passing. As part of the Right From the Start Coalition, FCCAM’s Public Policy Committee has been working on Speaker Fecteau’s child care workforce bill LD 1652 for the past few years. We believe the proposed $12 million is a positive step in building the investment needed to support Maine’s early care and education system. As child care workers we are the workforce behind the workforce. In supporting the child care workforce, children, families and our local economies are all supported.

There is time for individual providers to sent in their own testimony. MaineAEYC has offered providers support in drafting testimony. All you have to do is answer a few questions in this linked google form.  MaineAEYC will transfer your answers into a testimony and submit it for you, or provide you instructions on how you submit…you CHOOSE!  Deadline for submission is Friday, February 26th by 5pm. 

For those that did not see the release on Governor Mills Supplemental Budget Proposal on Feb. 15, 2022, here it is ~

Governor’s supplemental budget gives back half the budget surplus to Maine taxpayers, proposes tax relief for working families, increases Rainy Day Fund to record new high, and advances proposal for two-years of free community college to strengthen Maine’s workforce

Governor Janet Mills today introduced a supplemental budget proposal that returns half of the surplus back to Maine taxpayers, delivers crucial tax relief to working Maine families, and provides two years of free community college to pandemic-impacted students to strengthen Maine’s workforce. It also increases the Budget Stabilization Fund to more than $500 million, the first time in Maine history that state savings has ever surpassed a half billion dollars, and provides $100 million to the Maine Department of Transportation to fix roads and bridges, increasing an unprecedented level of General Fund support.

The Governor’s supplemental proposal aims to tackle the state’s most pressing problems, including pandemic-driven inflation that is hurting the pocketbooks of Maine people and the state’s longstanding workforce shortage, which is hampering the ability of employers to find employees.

“This budget proposal is bipartisan in nature, drawing on good ideas from both Republicans and Democrats to tackle some of Maine’s most pressing issues, like inflation and our longstanding workforce shortage, by giving back money to Maine people, delivering tax relief for working families, and providing two-years of free community college to help our students and our employers,” said Governor Janet Mills. “It accomplishes these important things in a fiscally-responsible manner while also increasing the Rainy Day Fund to a new, record high. I look forward to working with the Legislature as they consider this proposal and applaud them for the ideas we incorporated into it.”

“This proposal demonstrates our continued commitment to meeting the needs of Maine people and safeguarding the stability of State finances over the long-term,” said Kirsten Figueroa, Commissioner for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. “It builds on the bipartisan budget agreement of last year – which finally delivers 55 percent education funding and restores full revenue sharing – by providing relief to Maine people and tackling critical unmet needs across Maine — and all while increasing savings and protecting against potential economic slowdowns of the future.”

“This unprecedented level of General Fund support for infrastructure has been vital for our ability to deliver safe and reliable transportation for the people of Maine. We estimate that the $100 million proposed in the General Fund Supplemental Budget will leverage up to $284 million in federal, local, and other funds,” said Bruce Van Note, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation. “These funds will improve safety, economic opportunity, and quality of life for everyone who lives, works, and travels in our great state. We thank Governor Mills for her ongoing support for transportation.”

The supplemental budget comes after Maine’s nonpartisan Revenue Forecasting Committee (RFC) last year upgraded the State’s General Fund revenue forecast by 9.7 percent, or approximately $822 million, through Fiscal Year 2022-2023, which ends June 30, 2023.

In her supplemental budget, the Governor takes a cautious, fiscally-responsible approach, dedicating more than half of the surplus to one-time initiatives rather than ongoing spending, noting that the nonpartisan Revenue Forecasting Committee has said the long-term revenue projections are “volatile and susceptible to significant downside risk” in the years to come depending upon the course of the pandemic, Federal action, and inflation.

The proposal is balanced and builds off a previous budget measure passed nearly unanimously by the Legislature that achieves 55 percent of the cost of education, fully restores revenue sharing with municipalities, replenishes the Land for Maine’s Future Program, and provides a total of $371 million in relief to Maine people and business – including $285 Disaster Relief Payments to more than half a million Maine people.

It also complements the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, her Administration’s plan to use American Rescue Plan Act funding to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.

Highlights of the Governor’s Supplemental Budget include:

Giving Back Money to Maine Taxpayers and Providing Tax Relief to Low- and Middle-Income Maine Families:

  • Giving Back Half the Surplus to Combat Pandemic-driven Inflation: Consistent with the calls of Republican lawmakers, the supplemental budget proposes giving back half of the budget surplus – $411 million – to Maine taxpayers in the form of one-time $500 checks to help them deal with pandemic driven inflation. Get more information on the proposal (PDF).
  • Providing More Property Tax Relief: Proposes $7 million in ongoing General Fund dollars to ensure stable housing by increasing the maximum benefit of Maine’s Property Tax Fairness Credit. If approved, an estimated 100,000 low- and middle-income property owners and renters who pay more than 4 percent of their household budgets on property taxes or rent will be eligible for a refundable tax credit valued at up to $1,000 each year, with an even more generous $1,500 in maximum relief extended to seniors.
  • Increasing Tax Relief for Low- and Middle-Income Working Maine Families: Proposes $27.6 million in ongoing General Fund dollars so families can afford necessities and fight poverty by increasing the value of Maine’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides a refundable tax credit to working Maine people and families. This increase is estimated to help 100,000 Maine people, primarily working families with incomes of less than $57,414, by increasing the maximum benefit by an average of $400 per family, bringing the total EITC benefit per family to an average of $764 per year.
  • Providing Retirement COLA:In response to retirement benefits for approximately 37,095 retired state employees and teachers not keeping pace with the rate of inflation, this proposes making a one-time infusion into the Maine Public Employee Retirement System (MePERS). This investment of $14.7 million funds a one-time payment to those retirees that reflects the gap between the Consumer Price Index, which was 5.4 percent for the most recent period, and the 3 percent cost of living adjustment for the same period, which is the maximum allowed by statute. It will help retirees grapple with rising costs, address in part the cuts made by the previous administration and recognize the gap between the public employee pension benefits and the benefits received by Social Security recipients.

These proposals build on the $371 million the Governor has returned to Maine people and Maine businesses, including sending $285 checks to more than 500,000 hardworking men and women in Maine and millions more in tax relief for Maine people and businesses.

Championing Fiscal Responsibility & Reducing Borrowing:

  • Increasing Rainy Day Fund to New, Record High: Proposes adding $10 million in one-time General Fund dollars to the Budget Stabilization Fund, or so-called Rainy Day Fund, bringing it to a new record high of $502.8 million – the first time in Maine history that state savings have surpassed half a billion dollars. Under Governor Mills, Maine’s Budget Stabilization Fund has more than doubled.
  • Unprecedented Investments to Fix Roads and BridgesProposes transferring $100 million to the Maine Department of Transportation to repair roads and bridges, preventing for the first time in years the need to bond for transportation money. This builds on the biennial budget signed into law by Governor Mills that dedicates another $50 million to the Maine Department of Transportation for capital projects being constructed this year and stipulates that MaineDOT receive 20 percent of excess General Fund revenues through the “cascade.” In total, this will amount to more than $205.9 million this year – an unprecedented General Fund investment to improve Maine’s transportation infrastructure.
  • Maintaining 55 Percent Education Funding: Proposes the creation of an Education Stabilization Fund, capitalized with $30 million one-time General Fund dollars, to help the State maintain its commitment – achieved for the first time ever under Governor Mills – to fund public schools at 55 percent in the future.
  • Bolstering Medicaid Stabilization Fund: Proposes $30 million in one-time General Fund dollars to the Medicaid Stabilization Fund, funded by the Mills Administration in 2019, to budget responsibly for MaineCare.

Investing in Education to Tackle the Workforce Shortage and Improve Opportunities for Students:

  • Providing Two Years of Free Community College: Proposes $20 million in one-time General Fund dollars to provide up to two years of free community college for all students from the high school graduating classes of 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 who enroll in a Maine community college full-time. Get more details on the Governor’s Free Community College proposal (PDF).
  • Overhauling the Educational Opportunity Tax Credit: Proposes $42.1 million in ongoing General Fund dollars to dramatically overhaul Education Opportunity Tax Credit (“Opportunity Maine”) and transform it into a powerful, nation-leading tool to retire student debt for graduates and help employers to draw people from all walks of life to work and live in the State of Maine, consistent with the goals of a working group led by Senator Matthew Pouliot (R-Kennebec). Get more information about the proposal (PDF).
  • Preventing Tuition Hikes Across University of Maine System: Proposes nearly $8 million in one-time General Fund dollars to help the University of Maine System keep tuition flat for in-state students.
  • Increasing Pay for Child Care Workers and Early Childhood Educators: Proposes more than $12 million in ongoing General Fund dollars to increase pay for child care workers and early childhood educators to strengthen our child care system across Maine, consistent with the goals of legislation sponsored by House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, and in addition to the significant investments the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan makes in expanding child care and Pre-K education.
  • Fully Funding Free School Meals: Proposes nearly $27 million in ongoing General Fund dollars, to be combined with the $10 million previously set aside by the Governor and Legislature, to fully fund universal free meals in public schools, consistent with an initiative spearheaded by Senate President Troy Jackson.

This proposal builds on investments made in the currently enacted budget that fully funds the state’s share of K-12 public education for the first time in Maine history, improves funding to Maine’s public higher education institutions by 3 percent each year, invests in Maine’s workforce training through Career and Technical Education (CTE), and makes deposits into the School Revolving Renovation Fund for schools to make critical health, safety, and capital upgrades.

Strengthening Maine’s Health Care System and Child Welfare System:

  • Increasing MaineCare Rates: Proposes $30 million from the General Fund to fully implement updated rates for direct support worker wages, add and accelerate new cost-of-living adjustments for rates, and raise rates to be sufficient to pay direct support professionals at 125 percent of minimum wage.
  • Supporting Maine Hospitals and Nursing Homes: Proposes sending $25 million in one-time funding to Maine hospitals, including $6.8 million from the General Fund, as well as $25 million in one-time funding to long-term care facilities, including $7.5 million from the General Fund, to help these Maine health care organizations deal with one-time pandemic related costs.
  • Supporting Long-Term Care Facilities: Proposes sending $7.6 million in one-time dollars to nursing and residential care facilities, including $1.9 million from the General Fund, to assist with labor costs through June 30, 2022, the end of the 2022 Fiscal Year; proposes $5 million in one-time General Fund add-on money to help private non-medical institutions (PNMI Cs) provide care for residents who are older or have disabilities; and proposes $6.1 million in ongoing General Fund money for in-home and community services to help keep older Maine residents in their homes rather than in residential care facilities and hospitals.
  • Improving the Child Welfare System: Proposes nearly $8 million to improve Maine’s child welfare system, with $6.2 million from the General Fund, including additional child protective staff and implementation of timely recommendations from Maine’s Child Welfare Ombudsman, nationally recognized experts at Casey Family Programs (PDF), and proposals from the Maine Child Welfare Advocacy Network (PDF) (MCWAN), the Maine Child Welfare Advisory Panel (PDF), and Maine lawmakers.

The supplemental budget also proposes approximately $9.2 million in General Fund dollars to address PFAS contamination in Maine, including: $3 million for additional direct support to Maine’s farms and farmers, $3.2 million to make capital investments that improve environmental laboratory testing capacity in Maine for PFAS, with $1 million specifically to the Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory at the Maine CDC; and $750,000 for wildlife testing.

This comes on top of the $30 million for PFAS remediation secured by the Governor in the current biennial budget, which includes $10 million to help farmers impacted by PFAS and $20 million for sampling and private drinking water treatment systems.

The supplemental also includes $300,000 in one-time General Fund dollars to fund an actuarial study of a potential statewide paid leave policy; $137,000 in one time for Maine family planning clinics to help them deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; $1 million in one-time General Fund dollars for the Length of Service Award Program, tripling the current funding available to the program for the retirement of firefighters and EMS professionals; and $1.5 million in one-time General Fund monies to provide grant funding for durable greenhouses for schools and community centers for shared and educational uses and to enhance community-based opportunities for food production.

The budget also leaves nearly $12 million in unappropriated funding for the discretion of lawmakers.

The complete proposal is publicly available on the bureau of the budget website.

Posted in ECE Information, Legislation

Supporting Maine’s Child Care Workforce

from FCCAM Public Policy Committee ~

This joint letter from organizations working on behalf of the child care workforce has been sent to Gov. MIlls. We are the workforce behind the workforce.

Dear Governor Mills,

Thank you for all you are doing to support Maine’s fragile child care industry during this crucial and unsettling time.  Such support has made the difference for many programs and enabled them to continue to serve working families.  Sadly, that is not the case for all providers and families. We are writing to you today to ask for your continued help and support during this critical time.

As you know Maine’s child care sector still faces many challenges:

  • 19% reduction in the childcare workforce since 2019, while program waitlists soar and families struggle to find care
  • 27% decrease in the number of family child care providers in Maine since 2010
  • 58% of Maine child care centers surveyed in 2021 reported being understaffed
  • The poverty rate for early educators working in child care in Maine is 16.5%, much higher than for Maine workers in general (9.4%) and 8.3 times as high as their K-8 colleagues (2%). 

Those of us who lead child care programs are making very difficult decisions while we face unprecedented staffing challenges: short term closings, shortening the hours we are open each day, closing for one day every week, closing down classrooms, and adding dozens more families to our waiting lists that we cannot serve right now.

Through federal Covid-19 relief funding, Maine has offered $200 per child care educator per month wage supplement as part of the child care stabilization grants from Oct. 2021 through Sept. 2022. We know that parents cannot afford to pay the much higher tuition costs that would be incurred to raise compensation in child care programs without public funding. As child care administrators, directors, owners, and teachers we can tell you that this public investment is working and we need this stable source of funding to continue. 

The cost to run this statewide wage supplement program will be about $20 million per year, to allow for a tiered approach to supplements that honors years of experience and credentials and degrees earned. We are asking you to invest in the workforce behind the workforce, the essential early educators of Maine, with $20 million of ongoing state funding. Maine needs to support the vital child care workforce, just as we are valuing and investing in our colleagues in K-12 and other direct care and education sectors. Thank you for your leadership and steadfast commitment to child care in Maine.


YMCA Alliance of Northern New England

Family Child Care Association of Maine

Maine Head Start Directors Association

Maine Association for the Education of Young Children

Posted in ECE Information, Legislation

 Fuel Gas Detectors 

UPDATE (1/6/22): Licensed Child Care programs of any type/size are not included in this law, at this time. Our understanding is the question of why that is not the case has been repeatedly raised with the wider community learning about this law.

The Office of State Fire Marshal is ready to help providers with any questions around this law, appropriate detectors and even best installation location. Call:  (207) 626-3870 and ask for Brad Loon.

FCCAM knows laws can be changed and encourages providers to be proactive in regards to the safety of children in their care (and for fcc providers for their own families), if you have any appliance fueled by propane, natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas, consider getting the appropriate number of fuel gas detectors this new law is requiring for other businesses servicing children.

As small business owners of fcc programs, while we focus on what we can read in the FCC Licensing Rule at hand, it’s important to remember that outside agencies have changes that can impact that Rule. FCCAM just became aware of a new law passed by the Maine legislature in June of 2021 that might impact some fcc programs. We are not aware of any providers receiving any notification from OCFS on this, but from our reading of this law Family Child Care programs might fall under it. We will be reaching out to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and OCFS for clarification.

The Fuel Gas Detector law goes into effect on January 1, 2022.

Under the new law, MRS Title 25 §2469: Internal Security and Public Safety; Part 6: Fire Prevention and Fire Protection; Chapter 317: Preventive Measures and Restrictions; Subpart 2469: Fuel Gas Detectors, the owners of these properties will be required to install Fuel Gas Detectors. In accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements, at least one approved fuel gas detector must be installed in every room containing an appliance fueled by propane, natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas for the types of buildings listed below.

These ARE NOT the same device as a Carbon Monoxide detector and will not replace the need for those within buildings in Maine. Fuel gas detectors may be powered by any of the following methods, battery, plugged into an electrical outlet or hard wired. Regardless of the power source, the units must be maintained and installed per the manufacturer’s instructions. Fuel gas detectors will only be required to be placed within the room where a propane, natural gas or liquified petroleum gas fueled appliance is located.  

The building owner shall install, or cause to be installed, in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements at least one approved fuel gas detector in every room containing an appliance fueled by propane, natural gas or any liquified petroleum gas in: 

  • Each unit in any building of multifamily occupancy 
  • A fraternity house, sorority house or dormitory that is affiliated with an educational facility 
  • A children’s home, emergency children’s shelter, children’s residential care facility, shelter for homeless children or specialized children’s home. 
  • A hotel, motel or inn 
  • A mixed use occupancy that contains a dwelling unit 
  • A business occupancy 
  • A mercantile occupancy 
  • An assembly occupancy 
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!
Posted in ECE Information, Legislation

State of Maine Child Care 2020-2021 / One Year in a Pandemic

Public Policy Committee ~~

The Maine Association for the Education of Young Children (MaineAEYC), Family Child Care Association of Maine (FCCAM), Maine Head Start Directors Association (MHSDA), and YMCA Alliance of Maine conducted a child care survey this spring. It was sent by email to all licensed child care programs in Maine in April 2021.

FCCAM would like to thank all programs that completed the survey. The information you shared was impressive and has moved the discussion forward.

The Public Policy Committee would like to thank MaineAEYC for generating the final report from all the data collected. We encourage providers to take the time to read the report and look at the survey data.


The results of the survey highlight why the significant amount of federal funding coming to Maine this year is so important for the recovery and stability of the child care sector.

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.