The past week was momentous for the Right from the Start (RFTS) coalition, and more work is coming soon. This entire legislative session has hinged on two important bills – LD 1652, An Act To Build a Child Care System by Recruiting and Retaining Maine's Early Childhood Educators Workforce, and LD 1712, An Act To Support Children's Healthy Development and School Success.
House Speaker Ryan Fecteau’s workforce bill – LD 1652, An Act To Build a Child Care System by Recruiting and Retaining Maine's Early Childhood Educators Workforce – was recently printed, and both public hearing and work session were held within a week of each other. Both were successful as the Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business was given powerful testimony and had all their questions expertly answered. You can read the Maine State Chamber’s testimony on LD 1652 here.
The next bill – LD 1712, An Act To Support Children's Healthy Development and School Success – was recently printed and received its public hearing on Thursday, May 20 before the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services. LD 1712 is a complimentary bill to LD 1652. While Speaker Fecteau’s bill addresses quality and shortages in the early education and childcare workforce, President Jackson’s bill aims to improve access to support children and families.
Having accessible, affordable, and high-quality childcare is very important for our state. Families need to be able to learn about and access services, and those services need to be delivered by a robust and well-trained workforce. More than 70% of Maine children under the age of six have parents in the workforce. This statistic is part of the current hiring frustrations of our employers. Quality childcare also sets up Maine’s economy for future success. Children who are exposed to quality early education and childcare are 44% more likely to graduate high school, 74% more likely to hold skilled jobs, and earn 26% more as adults. This simply means early education and childcare makes a more productive workforce and increases purchasing power.
While this bill helps to develop long-run economic improvements, it can also impact our economy in the short term by helping parents and guardians participate in the workforce. President Jackson’s bill increases access for families by creating a community-based approach to ensuring families find appropriate services. The current system is highly decentralized, leaving families struggling to figure out who to contact and where to find the multitude of services. This new approach will create regional hubs and a centralized information system. By shifting the structure of the system, families will locate services more quickly, have access to services more locally, and have assistance with finding the appropriate services through screening and assessment.
If you would like more information about the issues discussed in this article, please contact Simon West by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 117, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org