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 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 Legislation

Update on First 4 ME / LD 1760

Bridget Barden, the Vice-Chair of FCCAM and Chair of FCCAM’s Public Policy Committee was able to attend the recent public hearing on LD 1760 “An Act to Support Children’s Healthy Development and School Readiness” and provide in-person testimony expressing FCCAM’s support of this bill.

This bill creates the First 4 ME Early Care and Education Program under the Department of Health and Human Services to provide comprehensive, high-quality early child care and education services for at-risk children under 6 years of age who have not entered kindergarten and the children’s parents by funding projects that integrate comprehensive resources and services with traditional center-based and family child care settings.

Here is the testimony:

Testimony of Bridget Barden On Behalf of the Family Child Care Association of Maine Before the Committee on Health and Human Services Regarding LD 1760 An Act to Support Children’s Healthy Development and School Readiness”

13 February 2020,

Senator Gratwick, Representative Hymanson, and distinguished members of the Health and Human Services Committee, my name is Bridget Barden, and I am the Vice-Chair of the Family Child Care Association of Maine. I am here today on behalf of our membership to ask that you support the passing of LD 1760 An Act To Support Children’s Healthy Development and School Readiness.

We believe that strong communities are built on strong foundations and those foundations are made when communities have a stable, sustainable workforce. In order to support families and their children, we believe that quality, accessible child care is a pillar of that foundation. The current lack of affordable, accessible, and quality early care and education programs is hurting our communities. Parents are tasked with leaving their children in care that they deem to be substandard or are being forced to leave the workforce to stay home and care for their children. Parents leaving the workforce can have a trickle down effect on the economy of our communities. 

LD 1760 offers communities the opportunity to define themselves and their goals to support quality early care and education. Allowing each community to define what supports they need and how they can attain them gives this bill a unique capacity to support programs of all sizes, types, and demographics. 

Family child care providers can find access to professional development opportunities to be challenging, as they work long hours, often alone. The framework of LD 1760 offers a coaching model, which allows for specialists to come into their homes to help support them in their own professional development plan. Having a specialist come to their programs ensures that they are able to offer quality child care to the children in their communities. 

With the ever present need for early educators in our state, family child care offers an opportunity for not only more people to become early educators, but also to become business owners, which adds to the economic development of their community. When children are adequately prepared for school, the whole community benefits. 

Thank you for your time and attention to this bill.

If you missed our previous post sharing a provider’s experiences with Elevate ME, a program in the Skowhegan area that First 4 ME is modeled after, click here.

You can stay informed on legislation that impacts child care through informational posts on this website, through FCCAM’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and in the “Public Policy” section of the top menu.

Posted in Legislation


You might have heard that there is going to be a hearing on Thursday, Feb. 13th in August on LD 1760 / First4ME a public-private partnership model for early care and education and workforce development. 

The bill is modeled after the national Early Head Start/Child Care Partnerships. Maine currently has a partnership between the Maine Early Learning Investment Group (MELIG) and Educare Central Maine (ECM) that follows the model. MELIG’s selected the Skowhegan community in Somerset County, as its first Elevate Maine partnership initiative. Its objectives are to elevate early education to the highest in standards and practice, to elevate student achievement for optimal success in school and beyond and to elevate the quality of Maine’s workforce. 

While we can read the language of the bill and research it’s background, it’s nice to be able to hear a first hand experience from a fellow provider that has participated in this type of partnership model.

Chrissie Davis, the Chair of the Family Child Care Association of Maine (FCCAM), has been a provider for the Home Start/Elevate Maine pilot project in Central Maine for 5 years. Here is a brief look at her thoughts about her engagement with the pilot.

I am so thankful that I decided to participate in Elevate Maine. I have developed a wonderful professional relationship with my Coach who comes to my home weekly to support my work with children, their families and my professional development. I receive support for curriculum implementation, child assessments, child nutrition, understanding stages of development, supporting children’s individual needs, strategies for learning environment organization and children’s behavior management, to name a few. My Coach also assists me in working with parents to strengthen the home-school connection and assist them in understanding the complicated state child care subsidy system. I also receive additional financial support for indoor and outdoor materials and supplies and have access to specialists in education, health, nutrition, disabilities and family engagement. Elevate Maine has offered connections to other family and center Providers through joint learning communities. In short, Elevate Maine supports all facets of quality, professionalizes FCC, and helps us develop our small businesses.

More Providers and the children and families they serve should have access to similar supports to promote the health and school readiness of children and grow a quality workforce.

Posted in Legislation

Legislative Session Update

The Executive Director of MaineAEYC, Tara Williams, has shared information from Maine Children’s Alliance’s last legislative update on the budget vote and final bill enactments. The Public Policy Committee of FCCAM wanted to share information about the bills we have been active on this legislative session.

Maine State Budget

  • Friday, June 14th, the Maine Legislature passed an almost $8 billion-dollar two-year state budget.
  • Monday, June 17th Governor Mills signed the budget.


  • $125 million for voter-approved Medicaid expansion
  • $111 million for K-12 education
  • $17 million more for public colleges and universities
  • seeks to move the state toward a $40,000 minimum public PreK-12 teacher salary
  • hires dozens more child protection workers.

Special Appropriations Table

This session Legislators introduced 1,846 bills. The 241 bills that passed in the House and Senate were placed on the Special Appropriations Table waiting on a decision on funding by the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. If funded the bill will be enacted. Members of the Appropriations Committee began meeting on Sunday, June 16th, to review the bills on the Special Appropriations Table. 

Following negotiations between the Governor and legislative leadership, there was approximately $6 million dollars available to support the 241 bills. (The 241 bill needed about $820million to all be funded.) Members of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee completed voting on the bills each caucus had prioritized shortly after midnight, June 19th.

Of the bills the Public Policy Committee has informed you on through postings on this website, through our Facebook page and through email, LD 997, the social emotional bill sponsored by Senator Cathy Breen, was the only one out of this legislative session that will be funded.

Child Care Bond

The work on the bond including the proposed $5 million for low-interest loans and grants for child care programs has not been completed yet.

Posted in Legislation

Update on Early Childhood Education and Care Bills

FCCAM Public Policy Committee received an update on the status of 2019 legislation and budget sent out to collaboration partners of Right from the Start.

The state budget will not cover all the bills moved forward from committees. There will be some hard decisions needing to be made among the bills passed by the legislature and placed on the Special Appropriations Table.

Here are the early childhood education and care bills that are believed will make it to the Special Appropriations Table or sent directly for Governor’s signature:

As always, providers are encouraged to become informed about the bills around early childhood education and care. Once informed reach out to your elected officials to be sure they are aware of your interest in specific bills.

Follow this action alert link to send a message to legislators on the Appropriations Committee and leadership: