Blog | May 21, 2018

Maine Legislators Take Steps to Strengthen Child Care in Maine

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Mission: Readiness, and ReadyNation members support high-quality early childhood programs

Early care and education, especially child care, was a very hot topic during this 128th legislative session which concluded on May 2, 2018, and our public policy education and work with legislators really made a difference in the outcomes.

Maine law enforcement leaders strongly embrace high-quality early learning programs in all forms.

Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry

Fifteen bills were considered that focused on various policy changes regarding child care in Maine. Many of these were likely in response to Congress’ 2014 reauthorization of the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant and the increased health and safety standards that accompanied the new federal law and funding.

A major victory occurred on May 2 when both the Maine Senate (by a vote of 31-3) and the Maine House (by a vote of 119-29) overrode the Governor’s veto of LD 166 “An Act to Increase Reimbursement for Child Care Services.” This bill raises the child care vouchers rates for lower income working parents from 50% of the market rate to 75%. The fiscal note is estimated to be $6.5 million and it will be paid for with the new discretionary federal Child Care and Development Block Grants — which do not require a state match.

Quality early learning programs help give kids a strong start and foundation for future learning, teaching them the social and cognitive developmental skills they need to thrive.

Maine State Chamber of Commerce Vice President Peter Gore

In his testimony supporting this proposal, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids member Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry said, “Maine law enforcement leaders strongly embrace high-quality early learning programs in all forms – child care, preschool, Head Start, Early Head Start, and home visiting. That’s because we know from our own experiences what the research and evidence show – getting all children, and especially at-risk children, off on the right start in life can reduce later crime…Three key indicators of quality are teacher education and training, low student-to-teacher ratios and having a consistent caregiver in the life of a young child. All of these factors need resources. Raising the child care voucher rate for reimbursement under the Child Care and Development Block Grant from the current 50th percentile of the market survey to the federally recommended rate of 75th percentile is a step in the right direction toward quality.”

High-quality early care and education build a solid foundation for the next generation to develop in mind, body and character so they can succeed in school and beyond, including in the military for those who choose to serve.

Admiral Gregory G. Johnson, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce talks with a student at the Catherine Morrill Day Nursery in Portland during a recent visit.
Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce talks with a student at the Catherine Morrill Day Nursery in Portland during a recent visit.

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