Expanding Child Care and Pre-K Options for Maine’s Working Families

Parents need access to reliable child care in order to go to work and all kids need a safe place to learn and grow while their parents are working.

That’s why my Administration is working hard to expand affordable, quality early child care for Maine’s working families.

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.

Look, good child care ensures that moms and dads across the state can go to work, earn a paycheck, and have the all-important peace of mind to know that their child is in a safe and enriching environment. 

But finding child care providers with available slots has been very hard for many Maine families. That’s especially true in our rural communities.

Renee Hayward, owner of Sweet Beginnings Child Care in Ellsworth said she gets calls and emails every day from parents asking if she has an opening, but the wait list is more than two years long.  

Renee said it breaks her heart seeing children with no place to go, parents not being able to balance work and child care, observing she “can't imagine the stress it's causing them." 

Over the last three years, we have taken decisive action to strengthen our child care sector by expanding early childhood education opportunities and by supporting child care workers at the same time. 

We saw this especially during the pandemic, and since the pandemic—a dearth of child care workers and child care slots. And we are addressing it.

When Maine received historic federal funding during the pandemic, we put more than $100 million towards expanding access to high-quality early child care. We have been busy renovating, expanding, and building new child care facilities to add almost 5,000 child care slots statewide. We’ve increased the salaries of more than 7,000 child care workers to keep experienced people on the job.  As a result, Maine has maintained and built child care slots beyond pre-pandemic levels. But there’s more to do. 

Just recently, my Administration received a $24 million Federal grant, and we’re using that to build on the work we have already done, expanding child care access and Pre-K access across the state. 

Using these federal funds, we will expand outreach and programming for early childhood services to more families. We’ll create pilot projects to make Pre-K more accessible. And we’ll offer professional development for early childhood educators and financial support for child care providers to improve and expand their programs. We’ll also use this grant to collect and analyze data we can use to make better decisions about programs and policies to benefit Maine children and families. 

Through strategic investments, we’re expanding access to early child care options and improving the quality of childhood education. That’s good for Maine children, it’s good for working parents, and it’s good for our economy. 

This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening. And Happy Patriot’s Day!