The Bath Area Family YMCA held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for its new preschool building. At the podium is Bill Haggett, the Y’s capital campaign chairperson, at right is Annie Colaluca, the Y’s child care director, and at left is Jacqueline Stahl, the Y’s billing coordinator and parent of a child in the preschool program. Courtesy of Bath Area Family YMCA

The Bath Area Family YMCA last week broke ground on a new building to expand its preschool program, a service that local leaders say is vital amid growing demand for child care across Maine.

The two-classroom building, expected to cost about $700,000, will allow the Bath Y to add 32 slots to its preschool program, which currently serves 52 children aged 3-5. For the first time, the Y will allow infants as young as 18 months to join the program when the building opens later this year, and it will hire four new staff members.

Annie Colaluca, the Y’s child care director, said she has a wait list of about 60 students and some of them have been on there for more than two years.

“It’s critical,” Colaluca said of expanded child care. “There aren’t enough programs. … This is our response to meet the immediate need.”

Y officials reported 175 Maine child care providers have closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with Sagadahoc County experiencing a 20% decrease in such providers. A total of 64% child care centers across the state have growing wait lists and 57% of Maine children aged 3 and 4 are not enrolled in preschool, according to the Y.

Funding for the Y’s new building came from the Child Care Infrastructure Grant Program administered by the state Department of Health and Human Services through a partnership with the Brunswick-based Coastal Enterprises Inc. The Davenport Trust Fund in Bath and individual donors also contributed.


The building is the first phase of a $7.2 million child care expansion project at the Y. The second phase is the construction of a six-classroom addition to the main Y building that will allow its preschool program to serve 170 students or more per year.

“With the incredible child care shortage in our area coming out of the pandemic, impacting the lives of children, families and area employers, the Y’s willingness to step up to the challenge of replacing a big chunk of that lost capacity was very impressive,” said Bill Haggett, the Y’s capital campaign chairperson.

Sen. Angus King, who lives in Brunswick, helped secure nearly $1.5 million in federal funding for the expansion. Bath Savings Institution and individual donors have also contributed to the project, which is about 50% funded.

“Traveling the state, I hear from families, small business owners and community leaders about the serious lack of affordable child care, which is directly tied to Maine’s workforce shortages,” King said in a statement. “From when I first reviewed the Bath YMCA’s application for Congressionally Directed Spending, it was clear the organization had a timely, well-thought-out proposal to expand its learning center and help address the Midcoast’s pressing child care shortage. The importance of this project was reinforced when I toured the site last year and saw firsthand the vision, commitment and excellence of the Bath Y staff. I’m excited that they are breaking ground on the expansion … and look forward to the profound, positive impact it will have on Maine families.”

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