Blog | May 5, 2021

Maine ReadyNation Members Meet with Senator Collins to Prioritize Child Care Funding

The business leaders of ReadyNation support affordable, quality child care as a driving force behind workforce participation and a thriving economy.

On April 28th, three Maine ReadyNation members: Dana Connors, President and CEO Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Larry Shaw, President and CEO MMG Insurance, and Jim Clair, CEO CSSHealth met with U.S. Senator Susan Collins to discuss FY22 appropriations for federal investments in child care and the importance the child care sector plays in supporting all other sectors of Maine’s economy.

Both Connors and Shaw served on Governor Mills’ Economic Recovery Committee last year and Clair, as Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Maine Early Learning Investment Group, has been passionately working to build more quality child care in Maine for nearly a decade. Together they made the case to increase funding for Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) in FY22 appropriations.

Dana Connors, President and CEO Maine State Chamber of Commerce, shared with Sen. Collins, “The emergency funding that Congress has allocated to child care is critically important, but as business leaders we know that consistent, predictable funding is critically important.” He expressed to the Senator that the lack of quality child care is a huge concern to Maine business leaders and a barrier to work for many employees.

Larry Shaw, President and CEO MMG Insurance, continued the conversation by focusing on how sustaining and consistently increasing the yearly federal investment will allow child care providers to recruit and retain qualified workers. This will help build a quality system, and increase access to affordable quality child care for working parents. “As business leaders, we know we have to invest in our workers to get a quality product. So too we must invest in child care providers themselves,” he said, emphasizing the vital importance of consistently increasing investment in CCDBG to support competitive wages and professional development opportunities for the child care workforce.

Jim Clair, CEO CSSHealth explained that quality child care delivered by a skilled workforce not only supports working parents today, but sets children up for success in any career they choose as future members of the workforce. “Quality child care programs help build the foundation of many skills needed for 21st-century jobs, including both cognitive and character skills and contribute to educational success. We simply must invest now and create the conditions for states to be able to enact the policies and practices - like professional development opportunities and competitive compensation for child care workers - that allow our children to thrive,” Clair said.

To reach the goal of a well trained child care workforce earning a liveable wage, Maine ReadyNation members asked Sen. Collins to include language in the FTY22 Appropriations report directing states to prioritize increasing reimbursement rates to quality providers and to set state standards for professional wages for qualified child care workers.

Susan Collins

U.S. Senator Susan Collins

Dana Connors with pre-K students

Dana Connors, President and CEO Maine State Chamber of Commerce, at a Head Start Center in Portland, ME

Jim Clair at press conference

Jim Clair, CEO CSSHealth and chair of Educare Central Maine Board of Directors at an early care and education press conference

Larry Shaw Headshot

Larry Shaw, President and CEO MMG Insurance

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