Governor Janet Mills today applauded the Legislature’s Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business (IDEA) for unanimously supporting a bill sponsored by Speaker Ryan Fecteau to raise the wages of Maine’s child care workers. Governor Mills has proposed $12 million to fund the legislation in her supplemental budget to increase pay for child care workers and early childhood educators to strengthen our child care system across Maine.
“We know that lack of quality affordable child care prevents people from taking jobs, from starting new businesses, from moving to rural communities, and it deprives kids of important developmental care. We’ve worked hard to train more child care workers and to pay them what they deserve, and we’ve built new child care facilities and created more child care slots to better serve Maine families, but we can do more,” said Governor Mills. “I support Speaker Fecteau’s proposal to raise the pay of child care workers in Maine, which is why I included funding to get it done in my supplemental budget. I applaud lawmakers for voting unanimously to move this legislation forward and I look forward to continuing to do everything we can for working families across our state.”
In addition to her supplemental budget, Governor Mills is making other historic investments in accessible child care in Maine, including the first-ever Child Care Plan for Maine (PDF) developed by the Office of Child and Family Services that invests approximately $120 million in American Rescue funds to help Maine’s child care system recover and to improve child care quality, accessibility, and affordability over the long-term. With this funding, Governor Mills has already provided $200 monthly stipends to 7,000 child care workers to encourage them to work in this valuable profession.
Separately under her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, Governor Mills is investing another $25 million in federal funds to help renovate, expand, or build new child care facilities and expand early childhood education programs.
These investments build on the Mills Administration’s efforts to support Maine families’ access to child care before and during the pandemic, including helping low-income parents who receive subsidies by waiving their contribution to child care fees, distributing $10 million in federal CARES Act funding directly to providers through stipends and grants, and making available $8.4 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to reimburse providers for COVID-19-related business costs. The state additionally maintains the Child Care Choices website, which allows families to locate and connect with providers in their area.