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What We Learned By Hosting A Public Forum On Our Child Care Deep Dive

Prospective Maine child care providers are unclear about the process of opening up shop — and the state is taking steps to bring some clarity. That’s among the findings of a public forum hosted by Maine Public’s news team at the Portland Public Library on Monday night.

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Credit Mark Vogelzang / Maine Public
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Maine Public
Maine Public News Director Mark Simpson makes opening remarks at a child care forum at the Portland Public Library on Monday.

The event was a culmination of months of work putting together Maine Public Deep Dive: Child Care, a weeklong series that aired on Maine Public radio June 24-28. Moderator Patty Wight and a panel of six reporters on Maine Public’s news staff — Fred Bever, Robbie Feinberg, Nora Flaherty, Irwin Gratz, Steve Mistler and Susan Sharon — summarized the series’ key points for a crowd of over 20 people.

Those points include:

  • At just under $10,000 per year, the cost of child care exceeds full-time, in-state tuition at the University of Maine.
  • Single parents in Maine spend nearly 40% of their income on infant care, on average.
  • Child care waitlists, especially in rural Maine, can last a year or longer.

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Credit Mark Vogelzang / Maine Public
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Maine Public
Maine Public reporter Steve Mistler helps panel a child care forum at the Portland Public Library on Monday.

Attendees included twin sisters seeking clarity on the process of opening a child care in southern Maine. They connected with Jenn Wiles, communications coordinator for Maine Roads to Quality, which provides training, continuing education and credentialing programs required for early childhood educators in state-licensed child care facilities.

Also in attendance was Democratic state Rep. Patty Hymanson of York, the House chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. Both Hymanson and Wiles stressed the importance of the issue and discussed steps the state is taking to address it.

For more information and to read all of Maine Public’s coverage, visit mainepublic.org/childcare.