I appreciated your recent article reporting that 10 percent of Maine child care centers closed during the pandemic. Most of us without young children probably don’t appreciate the gravity of the situation.

Maine’s child care system is at a breaking point. This is significantly impacting Maine’s kids, families, communities, employers and the economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this crisis, just as it has compounded Maine’s long-time workforce shortage challenge.

A high-quality child care system, including a strong child care workforce, is linked to the success of Maine people and Maine’s economy. First and foremost, child care programs help kids learn and build skills that can determine their success in school and life, including in tomorrow’s workforce. Child care also enables parents to work. This is true in all employment sectors in Maine. As the article mentioned, child care workers are “the workforce behind the workforce.” They are a critical foundation of Maine’s success.

As detrimental as the pandemic has been, it has shined a brighter light on the urgent need to address many challenges, including tackling head-on the crisis level Maine’s child care system has reached.

It is important that Maine policymakers prioritize ensuring the success of high-quality child care programs and their workforce. These investments will strengthen the workforce across Maine, better secure the economic success of Maine and Maine people, and may even attract more people to our state.

Thank you to the Press Herald for helping raise awareness of Maine’s child care crisis, and the importance of and urgency in resolving it.

Newell Augur

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