January 27, 2023
Child care access and integration with early childhood education increased significantly in Maine between 2019 and 2022, according to a new analysis and report by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC).
In October 2020, BPC released a report, Child Care in 25 States: What We Know and Don’t Know, that included interactive maps quantifying the supply of, and need for, child care. Maine was among the first of the participating states to provide updated data, with the new analysis showing the overall gap between capacity and demand in Maine has decreased from 4,921 slots to 3,079 slots since 2020, a 34 percent improvement.
While this reduction is a significant improvement and represents one of the smallest gaps in the states that BPC has reviewed, the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) remains committed to closing the child care gap in Maine. It also recognizes that some of the narrowing of this gap results from fewer families seeking child care, U.S. census data. OCFS, along with the Children’s Cabinet, continues its aggressive policy work to expand capacity and support child care workers so all parents who need it can access quality child care.
BPC also this month released a report showing Maine has improved from 16th to 10th in state rankings on integration of early care and education. The improvement is primarily attributed to the change made in 2019 to move child care licensing under the purview of OCFS. Creating an Integrated Efficient Early Care and Education System to Support Children and Families: A State-by-State Analysis offers a window into the opportunities — and challenges — in administering comprehensive Early Care and Education (ECE) systems.
This progress reflects significant and ongoing work consistent with the Child Care Plan for Maine, including:
- Distributing over $72 million in stabilization grants to help providers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic
- Distributing an additional $13.6 million in transition grants to aid providers as the stabilization grants concluded
- Establishing Child Care Infrastructure Grants, which are forecasted to add thousands of new licensed child care slots throughout the state
- Distributing salary supplement payments to over 1,500 child care facilities and family child care providers to support their workforce
- Assisting low-income families by waiving Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) parent fees for families at or below 60 percent of the State Median Income