It is a local decision for a school district in Maine to develop a public preschool, also referred to as a Pre-K or 4-year old (4YO), program. A child must be four years old by October 15th to attend a program receiving state subsidy and must meet the requirements set forth in Chapter 124: Basic Approval Standards: Public Preschool Programs .
Public preschools are approved and monitored by Maine DOE and funded through its Essential Programs & Services (EPS) formula, and/or through local school budgets. Approximately 35% of Maine’s public preschools are in partnership with a Head Start agency, local child care or private preschool program.
Almost 80% of Maine school districts offer at least one public preschool classroom and approximately 40% of all eligible children are enrolled in Pre-K statewide.
The 2021-2022 Public Pre-K Annual Survey is now available through August 31, 2022. It has been reduced to reflect key data that we do not collect in any other format. You can preview the survey here. All SAUs must complete the report found in the DC&R platform or you may access it here.
Currently, public Pre-K in Maine is not universally available for all 4-year olds. While the cognitive and social-emotional benefits of high-quality Pre-K are well documented, there are a variety of factors that contribute to whether school systems offer public Pre-K and the extent to which they are able to enroll all eligible and interested 4-year olds.
As part of the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, Governor Mills recently proposed a substantial investment of $10 million dollars of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for public Pre-K infrastructure to increase the number of 4-year olds enrolled in public Pre-K across the state. While we are currently awaiting final guidance from the US Treasury as well as approval of the Governor’s plan by the Maine Legislature, the Maine Department of Education is beginning to plan for this incredible opportunity.
As plans take shape, the Maine DOE will offer technical assistance related to public Pre-K expansion and program development. Please review the Pre-K Guidebook as a tool for guiding future planning. Recent recordings of Pre-K Guidebook discussions are updated and available weekly on our Professional Learning and Resources tab.
Early Childhood Specialist
Maine Department of Education