Governor Mills Cuts Ribbon to Formally Open New UMF Community Child Care Center Funded In Part by Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan

Farmington, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills today cut the ribbon to formally open the University of Maine at Farmington’s (UMF) new Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Early Education Center. U.S. Senator Susan Collins, UMF President Joe McDonnell, and early childhood education students currently attending the University were also in attendance.

Funding for the new center and related early childhood educator workforce development came from voter-approved State bonds in 2018, $1 million from Governor Mills' Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, and $1 million in Congressionally Directed Spending secured by Senator Susan Collins.

The new 10,000 square foot, state of the art facility will expand child care access for area infants, toddlers and preschoolers and allow UMF to increase enrollment in its early childhood education programs by at least 20 percent, supporting the State’s goal of training more skilled child care staff to enter and stay in the workforce.

“Parents across Maine need high-quality, reliable, and affordable care and education for their children – not only so that they can go to work, but so that they have the peace of mind that their children can learn and grow in a safe and nurturing place,” said Governor Mills. “I am proud that my Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is expanding access to child care, providing more early learning opportunities for more children in western Maine, and training the next generation of skilled child care workers at the same time. We know more child care options are badly needed, and we will continue to work hard to expand access to child care across Maine.”

Through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, approved by the Legislature, Governor Mills is investing $15 million to help renovate, expand, or build new child care facilities, which to date has created more than 4,100 child care slots.

The Governor, with the support of the Legislature, is also delivering increased, tiered stipends for child care workers, benefitting approximately 7,000 child care workers and helping qualified professionals remain in the industry and support providers in retaining staff.

Last year, the Governor also announced a $24 million, three-year Federal grant award to strengthen community supports and educational opportunities for young children. These will include expanded outreach and programming to families with young children, pilot projects to make Pre-K more accessible, professional development for early childhood educators, and financial support for child care providers to improve their program offerings.

These funds are part of unprecedented investment to increase access to high-quality care and support for Maine’s child care workforce via the state’s first-ever Child Care Plan for Maine (PDF), which charts how the DHHS Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) is helping Maine’s child care system recover from the pandemic and improving child care quality, accessibility, and affordability over the long-term.