Lawmakers Look to Guarantee Affordable Childcare for Working Mainers by 2030
Maine’s childcare system is struggling to meet the needs of families.
As we’ve reported in the past, some progress has been made to remedy the many challenges facing childcare centers and the hardworking Mainers that operate within them. But it is clear that the scope of investment needed in the sector requires more action from our lawmakers. Thankfully a group of legislators are stepping up to find solutions for working Mainers.
Senate President Troy Jackson recently introduced LD 1726: An Act to Build Maine's Economy by Supporting Child Care for Working Families. The bill is co-sponsored by at least eight other lawmakers from both chambers of the Maine legislature, including Senator Vitelli of Sagadahoc and Rep. Millett of Cape Elizabeth.
The proposal would:
Establish the Maine Child Care Scholarship Program within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This program would retroactively reimburse programs that provide its families with tuition assistance, ensuring that they can continue to provide the best child care possible while making them affordable for working families.
Direct DHHS to implement a program to achieve affordable child care by 2030. The program would be designed to, over time, ensure that no family making less than 250% of the state’s median household income spends more than 7% of their annual income on child care.
Establish the Child Care Task Force to make recommendations to DHHS regarding quality child care, particularly attracting and retaining qualified child care professionals by establishing stronger salary ranges, incentivizing higher education, and increasing support for child care providers that help some of Maine’s most underserved communities. The task force would consist of child care providers; early childhood educators; representatives for state programs on early childhood education, child care providers, and diversity, equity, and inclusion; parents; and economic and policy experts.
LD 1726 would support childcare workers and establish an affordable system across the state for working Mainers. We urge the Legislature to pass this important bill.