Child care options key to bright future

We appreciate Sheriff Joel Merry calling for legislative action to fix our child care crisis.The child care system is under incredible strain. Across Maine, the YMCAs’ child care programs have extensive waitlists. The wait for an infant/toddler slot can exceed a year. This leaves parents to make incredibly hard decisions around placing their children in unlicensed care, cutting back work hours, or leaving the workforce altogether. Despite best efforts, the system is failing Maine families.Our ability to meet families’ need for quality care comes down to our ability to hire and retain qualified early childhood educators. Currently, open positions remain unfilled for months; turnover is high. Highly qualified staff leave this field to work entry-level positions in other sectors for significantly better pay and benefits. Educators report their frustrations seeing signs around town recruiting new hires to pour coffee or flip burgers for $18 an hour when the average wage for an early childhood educator in Maine is less than $16 per hour. Our teachers spend hours on professional development, prepare lesson plans, teach, provide meals and snacks, sing, dance, read to, play with and comfort children upwards of 50 hours each week. Our challenges staffing our classrooms will not go away until we can offer competitive wages for this incredible work.LD 1726 will strengthen our beleaguered child care system. Doubling the monthly wage supplement for all child care workers is a critical investment in our most important asset – the skilled early educators that teach our state’s children and allow us to offer consistent care for working families.Collectively, the 15 YMCAs in Maine are the largest child care provider in the state, serving thousands of children with safe, nurturing and enriching care. The child care workforce is a critical component of our state’s infrastructure to support working parents and our economy.

Rob Gray, 
CEO Bath Area Family YMCA


The community of Bath is stepping up to provide much needed child care for area working families. The recent Times Record article regarding the Bath Area YMCA’s groundbreaking on an addition to provide space for 32 more children is welcome news for Bath parents who are on child care waiting lists and for area employers who are desperately trying to find workers.Another benefit to providing quality child care is a reduction in future crime. I am a member of the national nonprofit Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, and they have done extensive research into what helps keep kids away from criminal activity. One of the best crime prevention strategies is high-quality early care and education like the program offered at the Bath YMCA and the Bath Head Start, and the Mid Coast Youth Center in Bath when they are teens. These programs can lead to better school preparation, as well as fewer behavioral problems when these children reach their teenage years and beyond. There is also a greater likelihood of these kids graduating from high school and becoming productive adults.While the YMCA expansion will provide the space for more children to receive quality early childhood care, the Maine Legislature has a comprehensive bill that will help increase the pay for child care workers and increase the child care subsidies for qualified parents. LD 1726, An Act to Build Maine’s Economy by Supporting Child Care for Working Families, is an important step to ensure there are enough workers to keep child care facilities at licensed capacity and to help parents afford child care and go to work. I hope all legislators will support this bill and make an investment now that will pay great dividends in the future.Chief Andrew Booth,Bath Police Department

The cost of tax stabilization

Are you, taxpayer, aware of how complex and costly rhe Property Tax Stabilization Act that was passed in 2022 really is? Here are some of the issues:• The bill could cost up to $14 million by 2025.• There is no guarantee that the state will be able to reimburse the costs to the municipalities.• With no income requirement, the wealthy benefit the most.• Tax bills, once capped, can’t be adjusted for improvements, additions or totally new buildings.• Processing an application can take around 10 minutes – a great financial and administrative burden on municipalities.• Applications are required annually, an administrative burden on both the homeowner and the municipality.• Software used by municipalities doesn’t allow for this type of manipulation thereby requiring separate, manual tracking which is prone to errors.• If left in place, the burden to younger taxpayers will increase substantially.

A much better method to help seniors is LD130. It would replace the current Act with:• An increased homestead exemption for those over 65 to $75,000.• A program that works with current municipal software.• No additional administrative and financial burdens on the municipalities.• A tax burden for the state that is more predictable and sustainable.Please contact your legislators and encourage them to support LD130 and ask that it be effective as of April 1, 2023. Yes, this year. By making it effective April 1, 2023, assessors can use the applications already submitted for the current process and avoid the financial and administrative burden of complying with the current law.

Gail Eaton,

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