Department of Education
The first years of life are a critical developmental time in forming the basis for learning and social interaction. It is well established that investments in early learning have powerful long-term paybacks. The pandemic heightened the difficulty that many Maine parents and caregivers already faced in struggling to locate pre-kindergarten or child care programs. Access gaps are especially acute in Maine’s rural communities.
Maine’s Department of Education will help schools increase the number of children accessing high-quality pre-kindergarten, offering funds to establish or expand public programs. Through multiple competitive grant rounds, the Department will provide funding to local school administrative units to cover facility renovations, staff recruitment and training, and other start-up costs linked to establishing new public pre-kindergarten programs, expanding to additional classrooms, or transitioning from part-day/part-week to full-day/full-week. Priority will be given to schools that partner with community programs such as Head Start or child care, provide longer duration of education, and serve socioeconomically disadvantaged students. The Department will also provide technical assistance and professional learning to school administrative units for pre-kindergarten expansion.
An initial application round to start or expand programs for the 2022-23 school year closed November 4, 2021. Applications will open summer 2022 for grant funding to start or expand programs for the 2023-24 school year.