Program could add more than 3,500 new child care slots and help parents pursue career and educational opportunities
Governor Janet Mills has announced that $10 million is now available through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to help child care businesses launch or expand.
The Child Care Infrastructure Grant Program will help Maine people open child care businesses in their homes, transform existing buildings into quality child care spaces, and construct new child care facilities.
Existing child care providers can also use the funding to expand the number of children they serve.
Priority is given to sites in rural areas, that care for infants and toddlers, and participate in the child care subsidy program.
“Maine’s current and future workforce depends 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 education programs can boost academic outcomes and even high school graduation rates,” said Governor Janet Mills.
The funding may be used for new construction, renovations, outdoor spaces, indoor furniture and fixtures, educational materials, and working capital, and is administered through a partnership with Brunswick-based Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
“Finding child care is a challenge for most working parents,” said Keith Bisson, President, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. “Lack of child care keeps parents out of work, affecting a family’s economic well-being and causing a ripple effect of lower participation in Maine’s workforce. CEI is honored to partner with the State of Maine to help administer this grant program in support of our child care ecosystem.”
Applications for new family or home-based child care businesses are opening first, to encourage new providers in Maine’s rural areas, beginning immediately through May, 2024. Home-based child care businesses may apply for 75 percent of their start-up costs, up to $8,500. Applications for new construction of child care centers and expansion of existing child care providers will be announced by August 2022. New family child care businesses licensed by September 30, 2023 are also eligible for a one-time $2,000 stipend.
Governor Mills included iState funding to continue $200 monthly stipends to more than 7,000 child care workers in her supplemental budget. This continues stipends that the Department began providing last year as part of a larger effort to attract and retain people to work in childcare. The Child Care Choices website, helps families to locate and connect with providers in their area.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to achieve three goals: immediate economic recovery from the pandemic; long-term economic growth for Maine; and infrastructure revitalization. It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.