Maine DHHS Announces $13.6 Million in New Grants to Support Maine’s Child Care Providers

September 15, 2022

Federal grants complement state-funded payments for child care workers

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced today that it will distribute $13.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to improve Maine families’ access to safe, affordable, and high-quality child care.

Beginning next month, the DHHS Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) will award the Provider Transition Grants to help eligible child care providers cover a variety of costs related to COVID-19 and recovery as other pandemic-related support concludes. For the months of October 2022 through January 2023, child care programs will be eligible to receive $50 per slot based on licensed capacity. From February 2023 through May 2023, child care programs will be eligible to receive $25 per slot based on licensed capacity. This support comes from the federal American Rescue Plan’s supplemental Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Discretionary Funds.

These new grants will be delivered in the same monthly payments to child care providers as the permanent monthly child care worker salary supplements that start in October. Governor Mills supported and signed into law more than $12 million in ongoing state General Fund dollars to increase pay for early childhood educators providing direct care, strengthening the Early Care and Education system across Maine. Maine’s Early Childhood Educator Workforce Salary Supplement Program is designed to:

  • Increase early childhood educators’ regular pay through monthly stipends;
  • Incentivize continuing education of the early childhood workforce; and
  • Raise the overall quality of care for young children.

Child care providers have been receiving $200 monthly staff supplements as part of the one-year COVID-19 Child Care Stabilization Grants the Department began last October. Governor Mills included funding in her supplemental budget to continue the payments and, as directed by legislation, create tiers of staff supplements based on years of experience and higher education attained. As rules are developed to create the tiers, child care providers will continue receiving the $200 monthly supplements.

COVID-19 Child Care Stabilization Grants have been used to help Maine child care providers increase pay for staff and cover costs related to COVID-19. Announced last September and ending this September, the $71.5 million in grants have increased pay for over 7,000 child care workers in Maine and supported child care programs.

The Provider Transition Grants announced today are the Mills Administration’s latest investment in improving the accessibility and quality of child care in Maine. In August, it announced the latest round of up to $15 million in grants to support the construction and expansion of child care programs. This could add 4,700 child care slots across Maine, especially in rural areas and for infants.

The Child Care Plan for Maine also supports making child care more affordable for parents. For example, during the pandemic, OCFS dedicated nearly $3.5 million in federal funds to helping low-income parents who receive subsidies by waiving their contribution to child care fees, saving families up to $180 per week and currently supporting nearly 4,600 children. Maine is the only state in the nation that covers at least 75 percent of the market cost of child care through its subsidy program, meeting the federally recommended standard, according to a 2020 report (PDF) from the Prenatal-to-3 Impact Center.

Applications for the Provider Transition Grants for child care providers will be provided soon. More information on Maine’s Early Childhood Educator Workforce Salary Supplement Program can be found here.