The Bath Area Family YMCA will receive nearly $1.5 million in federal funding to build a child care center that will allow it to serve more families, according to Chief Executive Officer Sabrina Murphy.

The YMCA is finalizing plans for the project, which earlier was estimated at $3.8 million, Murphy said. No time line has been set yet, she said, but the federal funding will provide a solid foundation as the group begins to raise the additional money.

“It’s just a groundbreaking start for us,” Murphy said. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity to look to the future.”

The Bath Area Family YMCA’s Enrichment Program currently serves just over 80 3- to 5-year-olds per year. Contributed / Bath Area YMCA

The Bath Area Family YMCA’s Enrichment Program serves just over 80 3- to 5-year-olds per year, she said. The new center will allow the organization to expand to 120 children, including infants.

That would be a blessing for Midcoast parents like Kerrie Benedict, the YMCA’s business director, as they deal with the realities of a child care shortage in the state.

Because of the shortage exacerbated by the pandemic, Benedict began putting her name on waitlists months before she gave birth to her fourth child in November. Nearly seven months later, she still hasn’t found child care for her baby.


“I know how hard it is on the parents’ side to find good quality child care,” she said. “It’ll definitely fill a desperate need.”

The Enrichment Program is operating at max capacity, according to Director Annie Colaluca. Even though pre-K staff have taken over both the building’s multipurpose room and the former teen center, a lack of space and resources has forced the program to turn away several families.

“I have a wait list of 15 or more children,” Colaluca said. “I simply don’t have anywhere else to grow.”

The new building will allow the program to upsize from three classrooms to eight, while the funding will help double the staff’s size and, as well as pay for additional financial aid offerings.

Colaluca envisions the new center as  a “home away from home” for Midcoast children.

“My hope is that the continuity of care that we could provide would be really from that six-week mark all the way until they’re ready for kindergarten,” she said. “The families would benefit, and the children would benefit from that experience.”


While that ultimate goal may be years away, Murphy said the team hopes to find a way to expand offerings in the meantime.

“We want to meet that need as soon as possible,” she said. “We know the need is critical.”

Statewide, 1,606 child care facilities, including daycares, nursery schools and family child care providers, were licensed as of January 2022, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Between April 2020 and September 2021, the earliest months of the pandemic, 187 closed, according to The Times Record.

The funding for the YMCA is part of the 2022 Omnibus Appropriations package, which was approved in the U.S. Senate 68-31 March 10.

Maine Sen. Angus King said the funding will create “important enrichment opportunities for Maine kids and (increase) the amount of affordable, quality child care available to Maine parents.”

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