Department of Health and Human Services
The first years of life are a critical developmental time in forming the basis for learning and social interaction. It’s well established that investments in early learning have powerful long-term paybacks. The pandemic heightened the difficulty that many Maine parents already faced in struggling to locate pre-kindergarten or child care. Access gaps are especially acute in Maine’s rural communities.
Maine’s Office of Child and Family Services in the Department of Health and Human Services is establishing the Child Care Infrastructure Grant Program, which will deliver funding and technical assistance to launch or grow child care programs throughout the state. The program will enable existing providers to renovate facilities and increase enrollment. For new providers, the program will offer help with startup costs and business planning, as well as with child care specific activities such as developing an early childhood education approach, securing licenses, and earning a Quality for ME rating. These Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan investments complement other state and federal funding distributed by the Department to support the child care industry, including Child Care Stabilization Grants.
As part of the supplemental budget bill passed in April 2022 (public law 2021, chapter 635) and in accordance with the original Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan legislation (public law 2021, chapter 483), $5,236,475 in early childhood funds were reallocated to provide additional resources for grants to renovate, expand or construct child care programs. This reallocation was made possible because available federal funds from the child care development block grant are sufficient to establish and provide ongoing support for the Help Maine Grow System and the First 4 ME Early Care and Education Program. This investment increases by over 50 percent the total Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan funding available for “bricks and mortar” child care projects to $15,236,475.