Maine’s current and its future workforce depend on accessible, affordable child care. Not only do working parents need a safe place to send their kids during the day, but research shows that successful early care and early education programs can boost academic outcomes and even high school graduation rates.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
As you know, I am the proud grandmother of five young adults and small children here in Maine. I understand the great need for quality early child care.
To increase access to affordable childcare, my administration is investing $25 million in federal funds through my Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, as approved by the Legislature, to help renovate, expand, and build new child care facilities and expand early childhood education programs.
Earlier this year, I visited a former call center in my hometown of Farmington, a call center that is being renovated and turned into the Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Early Childhood Education Center. Using some of the funds from my Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, the University of Maine at Farmington is creating at least 20 slots for high-quality infant and toddler care at the new Center. That means at least twenty families living in western Maine will have reliable child care for their kids that they didn’t have before.
Ensuring our early childhood educators and child care providers have the physical space they need is certainly essential. We also have to invest in the people who provide such important care for our kids.
To attract and retain people to work in this valuable profession, last month I also signed into law a supplemental budget. A bipartisan budget that will deliver $200 monthly stipends to more than 7,000 child care workers across Maine, continuing the stipends that we began last year with federal funds.
Earlier this week, I toured the Creative Explorations Child Development Center in Windham. They used some of those federal funds to raise the wages of their staff who were working around the clock to keep children safe and to support their early development at the same time during the pandemic. And now they are continuing, filling eight-five slots for infants through five year old children with incredible, creative indoor and outdoor activities.
With our new budget and my Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, we are expanding access to child care and we are giving working families what they need to provide healthy, safe care for their kids. Care that allows them to be productive, to go to work, bring home a paycheck, and strengthen our state’s economy.
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.