Blog | Event | March 15, 2022

Maine Policymakers and Business Leaders Release Report Detailing Need to Invest in Child Care Teachers

A new research report from Council for a Strong America demonstrates the importance of supporting a highly qualified child care workforce for Maine’s economy

Kim Russell

Maine business leaders joined state policymakers in Portland to release an impactful new report from Council for a Strong America highlighting the need for investments in child care providers to stabilize Maine’s workforce and support economic development. The report, entitled “Child Care Providers: The Workforce Behind the Workforce in Maine,” lays out the dire need for expanded access to high-quality child care in Maine, and how lawmakers can help child care providers attract and retain highly qualified staff by increasing wages.

Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Quincy Hentzel. (background Maine CSA Director Kim Russell)

In order for Maine to recover financially from the pandemic and continue to grow economically, it’s clear that we need to ensure that parents in the workforce have access to high-quality, affordable child care.

Quincy Hentzel, CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Member of ReadyNation

The pandemic had a drastic impact on Maine’s child care providers, with 141 having to close permanently. For those fortunate enough to reopen, many now operate with reduced capacity due to staff shortages. This leaves many of the parents of the approximately 77,000 children under age 6 in Maine having to make difficult choices about limiting the hours they can work, or leaving Maine’s workforce entirely.

The pandemic only worsened problems that have plagued the child care industry for years related to attracting and retaining highly qualified child care staff. In fact, a 19-percent decline in child care professionals has fueled staffing shortages among child care providers.

Steve deCastro, President and CEO Gorham Savings Bank, Member ReadyNation

Maine’s child care providers perform an essential service and are a critical part of our economy. We must do all we can to attract and retain these workers and strengthen this important sector.

Steve deCastro, President and CEO of Gorham Saving Bank, Member of ReadyNation

Many leaving the sector cite long work hours and low compensation as key reasons for their departure. Child care workers often work 10-hour days, 50-52 weeks a year, for substantially less average pay than pre-k and kindergarten teachers. Many also work without health care or other benefits. To combat these issues faced by child care staff, the report highlights the need for increased compensation for Maine’s child care providers.

Maine’s economy depends on affordable, accessible child care. Strengthening the child care sector is a critical part of our economic recovery, and an investment in our future workforce.

Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development

State policymakers also weighed in on this critical issue.

“Maine’s early childhood educators support the development of our children while their parents work. They are the workforce behind our workforce. They work incredibly hard and deserve access to professional development opportunities and compensation that allows them to support their own families,” said Speaker of the House Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford). “Policymakers should work to continue to grow access to child care statewide and address the needs of the child care workforce. Support for high-quality child care is an investment in our future economic well-being.”

State Senator Richard Bennett (R-Oxford), Senate Chair of the Maine Children’s Caucus, agreed. “If every family were able to access the quality child care they need, regardless of where they live in Maine, we could increase workforce participation across Maine and unleash the potential for true economic growth. We would also have more people choosing to move here specifically to work and raise their children.”

For more information, you can read the full report here.

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Kim Russell

State Director, Maine

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