Expanding Help Maine Grow and First4ME Early Care and Education

Department of Health and Human Services

This initiative addresses educational disparities for Maine families and their children by expanding Help Maine Grow and First4ME Early Care and Education, two programs designed to support the healthy development of children.

Help Maine Grow is a comprehensive, statewide system of early identification, referral, and follow-up for all children from prenatal care up to 8 years of age and their families, which increases access and referrals to early intervention services. The First4ME Early Care and Education Program is designed to improve social, emotional, educational, and health outcomes for children under 6 years of age, contributing to the provision of comprehensive, high-quality early childcare and education.

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), these 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.