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Maine Legislature on track to pass $12 million proposal to support child care providers

Child care photo.jpg
Rebecca Conley
/
Maine Public
Volunteer Patsy Ciampi and teacher Matthew Little-Farmer at Catherine Morrill Day Nursery in Portland in May.

The Maine Legislature is poised to enact a $12 million proposal designed to bolster the state's child care and childhood education workforce that’s been dogged by low wages, leaving working parents struggling for care options.

The proposal, sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, of Biddeford, boosts pay for child care workers by about $200 per month while also providing professional development opportunities.

During a speech Thursday, Fecteau described the bill as key to helping Maine parents and solving workforce shortages in child care and other sectors.

"This is a critical piece of Maine's economic health," he said. "Maine's early childhood educators support the development of our children. They are the workforce behind our workforce."

The bill has so far received broad bipartisan support, garnering unanimous votes in the House and Senate.

Maine's child care workforce was already depleted before the pandemic and the problem got worse as workers left the low-paying industry for other opportunities.

Fecteau’s bill is backed by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, child care advocates and Gov. Janet Mills, who has indicated she would sign the bill into law.