In the past week, the Right from the Start Coalition (RFTS) discussed the current operating conditions of Maine’s childcare providers. While 96% of currently licensed childcare and early education providers are open, they are struggling to meet demands due to limited capacity and long wait lists. Of the 300 respondents in a recent survey, 25% have indicated that permanent closure within the next six months is a real threat.
There are signs of relief coming for providers. The American Rescue Plan Act provides $39 billion in childcare relief funding and is a crucial part of the $50 billion in support, provided by the CARES Act, for the childcare and early learning industry that many families rely on. Of these funds, Maine will receive a total of about $119 million. Roughly $46 million will be provided for expanded childcare assistance and roughly $73 million will be provided for childcare stabilization.
RFTS also has its eyes on four bills that are schedule to having hearings in April:
LD 1252 will see opposition from the Office of Child and Family Services. Language in the bill excludes siblings of children in the provider’s care from being counted toward the cap at which childcare providers must become certified as a family childcare provider. While expanding access to childcare is an important and worthy cause, ensuring that children have access to quality care is essential. Certification ensures certain standards such as adult-to-child ratios. Other standards and requirements impact health and safety measures in numerous ways.
On the workforce front, the Maine State Chamber will soon be working on a project to help match students with disabilities to mentors. This project aims to help prepare students for the workforce, educate employers, and fill workforce gaps.
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 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.