Posted in DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

Stay Informed!

Here’s recent news from the Governor’s Office and OCFS that FCC providers should be aware of ~

“The health of Maine people, the health of our economy, and the health of our future depend on three things: our ability to put the pandemic behind us, our ability to tackle the economic challenges immediately in front of us, and the ability to solve the longstanding, systemic problems that have held us back for decades,” said Governor Janet Mills. “These initial investments, which deliver crucial financial relief to small businesses and Maine people, are a down-payment on these efforts. When combined with our forthcoming investments to rebuild our workforce, expand access to child care and housing, and support new, innovative industries, we will build a stronger state and a better economy that provides people with good-paying jobs, the opportunity to put down roots, and an unmatched quality of life.”

Small Business Health Insurance Premium Relief Program

The Small Business Health Insurance Premium Relief Program provides premium payment relief to Maine small businesses who are enrolled in a fully-insured, community-rated small group comprehensive health insurance plan. A small group plan is a plan that covers 50 or fewer employees.

  • The program is part of Governor Janet Mills’ Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan. It is paid for by $39 million in federal funding from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act.
  • The program will run from November 1, 2021 to April 30, 2023, depending upon the continued availability of funding.
  • All insurance carriers in Maine offering fully-insured small group plans in Maine are participating in this program. The insurers participating are Aetna, Anthem, CHO (Community Health Options), Harvard Pilgrim, and United Healthcare.
  • More detailed information and sample carrier letters are provided in the linked documents below: Information Sheet – General, overall information about the program Carrier Questions & Answers – A running list of Q&As from the carriers Draft Letter from Insurers to Small Group Employers – Sample language for carriers to use in an initial communication with their small group plans about the requirements of the program Draft Notice from Insurers to Small Group Employers, to Include with Monthly Invoices – Sample language for carriers to include with monthly invoices sent to small group plans

Business owners should first contact their insurance carrier with any questions about the credit or their monthly invoices.  Business owners may also contact the Bureau of Insurance at 1-800-300-5000 or by email: Insurance.PFR@Maine.gov, for additional information.


The Maine Jobs & Recovery Small Business Grant Program

The Governor announced today that her Administration is launching the Maine Jobs & Recovery Small Business Grant Program. The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development is putting forward $5 million of the $20 million allocated to the program in total for grants targeted at supporting capital intensive businesses that still need immediate short-term help to sustain operations.

More specifically, the $5 million will be put towards expense-based grant relief to help businesses and non-profits with significant expenses related to loans and interest they incurred in order to sustain operations. The loans must be in deferral as a direct result of the pandemic and the business must demonstrate at least 20 percent lost revenue in the year 2021. Applications for the program will open November 1, 2021.

The remaining $15 million will then be made available in April 2022 in order for businesses and non-profits to easily utilize tax returns to demonstrate financial impact of the pandemic on their businesses and, therefore, qualify for a funding based on need. This approach – stabilizing businesses most in need now followed by larger grants later on – was developed by DECD in conjunction with the business community.

This new program comes on top of the more than $273 million the Administration has already provided in Federal support to 5,224 businesses and non-profits during the pandemic.


Moving Forward

In coming weeks, the Mills Administration will continue to announce more Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan investments to address known, systemic challenges that have constrained Maine’s ability to grow and thrive, with priority focus on investments to grow and develop Maine’s workforce.

With more than $300 million in planned workforce investments through education and skills training programs, workforce housing, childcare, worker attraction, and business supports, the Jobs Plan aims to make a measurable impact on Maine’s workforce trends and build an economy poised for future growth.

Workforce investments in the Jobs Plan include $105 million for workforce programs at Maine schools, community colleges, and universities; $50 million for affordable and workforce housing, $20 million to expand Pre-K and childcare infrastructure, and programs targeted directly at addressing pressing workforce needs in health care and clean energy fields.

Other investments from the Jobs Plan include critical infrastructure investments, such as expanding broadband, enhancing state parks, accelerating weatherization and energy efficiency projects, and upgrading municipal stormwater and drinking water projects.

Funding for the Jobs Plan is through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, which allocated $4.5 billion in stimulus funds to Maine earlier this year.

Coordination of the Jobs Plan is led by the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services and the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, through a new Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan Office.


The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)  Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) would like to share a helpful resource for Child Care Providers to utilize when determining the total amount of reimbursement per child when factoring in OCFS’s current incentives.  

Child Care Subsidy Program Reimbursement Initiatives

Providers can find specific examples for their county in the linked Child Care Subsidy Program Reimbursement Initiatives. Here’s an example of what you will see per county:

Posted in Business Practice, DHHS / OCFS, ECE Information

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is More Than Just CCSP

“The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program provides resources to state, territory, and tribal grantees that enable low-income parents to work or pursue education and training so that they can better support their families while at the same time promoting the learning and development of their children.” Providers know this as the Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP), but the CCDF is about more than just subsidy.

The CCDF program also provides funding to enhance the quality of child care for all children, thus impacting all providers in Maine.

The CCDF Plan is how Maine applies for CCDF funding. It’s how the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) determines state compliance with the requirements of the law and rule. The CCDF Plan allows states to describe their implementation of the CCDF program. As small business owners it’s important that we are aware of the programs that impact us and the valuable service we provide to children and their families. A draft of the CCDF plan for the period of October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2024 is being presented by DHHS/OCFS to the public for review and comment. “The purpose of this hearing is to seek public and provider input and comment on the draft plan for the provision of child care services funded by the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). The State Plan describes Maine’s plan to support the State’s child care infrastructure and comply with federal requirements of the CCDF Act of 1990.”

Public Hearing: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at 12 p.m. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this hearing will be conducted via Zoom. Registration required.

Written comments on the draft may be submitted for consideration prior to the public hearing and/or until midnight April 14, 2021, via Fax: 207-287-6308 or by email to Crystal Arbour at Crystal.Arbour@Maine.gov.

FCCAM encourages all providers to review the draft – Maine CCDF FFY22-24 Draft State Plan (PDF). (It is 152 pages in length, but you can skip over a good number of the pages.) Look for the underlined response from the state, which details how they plan to use CCDF funds to support children and families, thus enhancing the quality of child care for all children.

This post’s purpose is to highlight a few areas of the CCDF FFY22-24 Draft State Plan, providing examples of some of the ways the CCDF directs/impacts child care in Maine. Language was pulled as directly from the plan as possible. To make it easier to follow we used the plan’s numerical identification (example 2.3.1) for each section. The orange color blocks contain information also pulled from the plan as examples of broader impact on child care programs. The color blocks follow the section they relate to.

1.1.1 : Lead Agency is Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Under Maine’s plan the Lead Agency has the flexibility to modify this program at any time, including amending the options selected or described. 1.1.2. CCDF Administrator is Crystal Arbour, Child Care Services Program Manager. 1.2.2 The Lead Agency has broad authority to operate through other agencies, as long as it retains overall responsibility. This covers determining eligibility, finding child care, issuing payments, monitoring licensed providers and license-exempt providers, and operating quality improvement activities.

  • Maine Roads to Quality (MRTQ)/The Professional Development Network (PDN) is responsible for the Childcare Choices website, a resource for finding child care by address, city, or zip code in Maine.
  • The Opportunity Alliance Contact Center supplies an online directory and resource center with the website 2-1-1 Maine or through text messaging capabilities.

1.2.3 Office of Child and Family Services monitors all contracted services.

1.3.1 The Lead Agency is to have consultation with appropriate representatives. In Maine that starts with the Children’s Cabinet Early Childhood Advisory Council (CCECAC). There are 2 licensed family child care providers (State FCC organization recommendation is required). (Currently these 2 fcc providers are active members of FCCAM, currently serving on our Board. )The 5 Maine Tribal CCDF administrators are also contacted regularly.

1.4.1 Explains working for services, such as, children with special needs, including early intervention for infants and toddlers; Head Start; CDC public health/immunization; Maine Career Center; DOE for Pre-K;

Beginning January 2021, the State Administrator began participating in the ECS’s Early Learning Transitions Technical Assistance Initiative with DOE to improve aspects of transition in early care and educational settings across Maine.

child care licensing;

…coordinating goals and policies for Child Care Provider, rulemaking, and meeting guidelines for CCDF Rules, and other Lead Agency activities.

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP); homeless education; TANF; MaineCare; mental health;

Beginning in 2020, OCFS expanded the Children’s Behavioral Health Unit to include its newest program, Early Childhood Consultation Partnership (ECCP)


Child care resource and referral agencies; early childhood education training and professional development;

Maine does not have a CCR&R and does not plan on that changing. MRTQ/PDN handles the website for locating Child Care Providers in Maine, provides early childhood education training, professional development and statewide technical assistance (T/A) that include onsite consultation with the addition of District Early Childhood and Youth Coordinators (DCs) located in each Region of the State. (*see FCCAM PLC post on TA)

afterschool/ out-of-school time care; and emergency management.

1.8.2 State Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan includes guidelines for continuation of subsidy, child care services, and coordination of post-disaster recovery of child care services. (*note that the link provided for the disaster plan does not work.)

2.2.1 Complaints about child care providers process

2.3.4 Website links for Lead Agency’s processes related to child care – how the state/territory licenses child care, a rationale for exempting providers from licensing requirements, the procedure for conducting monitoring and inspections of providers, and the policies and procedures related to criminal background checks.

*(from link above)”The Office of Child & Family Services (OCFS) has been working to develop the criminal background check process to include fingerprinting that meets federal and state requirements for all child care providers delivering direct care services. This process is scheduled to be released August 30, 2020 for all current and prospective child care providers statewide. This process is at no cost to providers.”

2.3.6 Quality information posted for consumer knowledge – https://childcarechoices.me/

2.5.1 Resources and services available around a child’s developmental needs

3.1 Begins eligibility determination (*FCCAM PLC post about subsidy eligibility for families.)

3.2.3 Lower co-payments for higher quality of care.

Families using a step three quality rated provider receive a 10% discount in the parent fee. Families using a step four quality rated provider receive a 20% discount in the parent fee.

4.1.3 Equal Access to care – includes reported provider barriers for participation in CCSP and parental access to child during care.

The Lead Agency is actively working to decrease these barriers by including the health and safety training and QRIS participation into licensing rule. In addition, several incentives have been initiated into CCSP, this include the infant/toddler 10% increase in reimbursement at any step level and the infant stipend for CCSP providers caring for an infant receiving CCSP.

State of Maine Family Child Care Licensing Rule: The provider must allow parents to visit and observe any time during the hours of operation.

4.1.6 States that Maine will not provide child care services through grants or contracts for child car slots. (*This is an area that has been raised in the past looking at the barrier of providers maintaining a sustainable income while increasing availability of subsidy care.)

4.1.8 Lead Agencies are required to develop and implement strategies to increase the supply of and improve the quality of child care services.

This includes recruitment of providers. Through June 30, 2023, the Lead Agency is covering the costs of licensing and renewal fees for all licensed child care programs statewide. Also newly licensed ECE programs can apply for Quality Improvement Mini-Grants. The Lead Agency has also partnered with MaineAEYC to provide T.E.A.C.H. scholarships in Maine. (*see FCCAM PLC post)

CCSP Infant Stipend and Infant/Toddler reimbursement bump in July of 2020. Providers caring for an infant receiving CCSP, in compliance with the required health and safety training, and have an updated QRIS registry will receive $100 per infant per week. In addition, a 10% bump in reimburse for each infant or toddler in their care. Through the Lead Agency’s partnership with MRTQ PDN, Quality Improvement Stipends for programs joining Quality for ME. Individuals enrolled in the Maine Infant/Toddler Credential Cohorts can also receive Quality Improvement Stipends.

4.1.8.viii. Accreditation supports

Through the Lead Agency’s partnership with MRTQ PDN, Quality Improvement Mini-Grants: This funding is for programs that are currently in an accreditation cohort (for at least six months) OR that have submitted for their final accreditation observation, OR that have maintained a Step 4 during the funding period, OR meet all requirements assessed in all performance areas for Head Start AND maintain a Step 4 rating with Quality for ME. In addition, provide a fee reimbursement for the cost of accreditation.

4.2 Market Rate and Analyze of Cost of Child Care. [1,618 child care providers were sent surveys. 966 providers responded to the surveys.] (** (the link for the required posting of the MRS report does not work) Providers working with subsidy should have received information on their billing forms)

4.3 Payment Rate /Practices

5.2 Standards for Ratios / Qualifications for CCDF Providers. (*this impacts licensing and thus all providers)

6.1 Professional Development

MRTQ PDN trainings range from free to $1 per training hour. Technical assistance support for a practitioner to obtain a credential is free. The MRTQ PDN trainings are articulated into the Community College system and the cost for a practitioner to articulate into college coursework is free. Registry is free to all.

*Not sure how to access/join the Registry? Here’s a FCCAM PLC post on that. There is also currently an incentive to join the Registry.

6.4 Early Learning and Development Guidelines

7 Continuous Quality Improvement

QRIS Revision Project, the Infant/Toddlers Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards (MELDS) were revised and finalized Fall of 2020. Maine expects the release to begin Spring of 2021.


Again, our purpose of any blog posts on this website is to provide information to child care providers across Maine about programs, legislation and state plans that impact the services they provide children and families. There is no way we could cover every part of the CCDF Draft and encourage all providers to read through it, focusing on sections that relate to their unique program and needs.

Not sure how to write testimony or provide written comment? Here’s an older post that might help you. Please know it is important for your comments to be heard.

Posted in DHHS / OCFS

Maine’s Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP)

Maine’s Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) assists eligible families in paying for child care if they work, are enrolled in school, participate in a job training program, or are retired and the legal guardian of a child. On average CCSP serves over 4,000 Maine children and has over 800 participating providers. There is a need for an increase in the number of care slots available to families that qualify for subsidy support. Providers continue to have questions about what subsidy is and what is required of providers. Following is some basic starting information.

Types of child care eligible to participate?

  • Licensed family child care homes
  • Licensed child care centers
  • Licensed exempt child care in-homes (2 children or less)
  • Adults who come to your home to provide child care
  • Relatives over the age of 18 providing child care

How do you become a CCSP Provider?

  • Licensed child care providers are required to become a Maine Roads to Quality (MRTQ) registry member.
  • Licensed child care providers are required to become a member of the Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS).
  • All providers are required to meet licensing or monitoring guidelines.
  • All providers must take the required health and safety trainings.
  • All providers are required to complete provider agreements with CCSP.

Contact CCSP:
Phone: (877)680-5866
Email: ccsp.dhhs@maine.gov
Website


Facts about subsidy in Maine:

  • CCSP providers receive an increase (quality bump) in reimbursement at QRIS step levels 2, 3, & 4.
  • Parents that use providers at a QRIS step 4 receive a tax break.
  • Off-hour child care providers receive an additional 35% in reimbursement.
  • Providers are not obligated to fill openings with a child receiving subsidy
  • Maine currently reimburses at 75% of the market rate.

Child Care Subsidy Program Rules


How is the Child Care Subsidy Program funded?

The Federal Office of Child Care (OCC) supports low-income working families by providing access to affordable, high quality early care and afterschool programs. OCC administers the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) and works with state, territory, and tribal governments to provide support for children.