Child care providers have the incredible duty of supporting children during their most crucial developmental stages. I began my career as a pre-K teacher, and I know firsthand the joy and challenges that come from teaching — and corralling — a room full of 4- and 5-year-olds. More than that, child care providers are the workforce behind the workforce. In Maine, nearly 70% of children under the age of 6 live in a home where all available adults are working. With the rising cost of living, most families need to have multiple incomes to afford necessities. At the same time, many businesses are still struggling to find qualified workers to fill open positions. That means working families and our economy rely on the availability of affordable, quality child care programs.

With that goal in mind, I have been working alongside child care providers and experts in the field on a bill to put pre-K on a path toward long-term growth and stability. L.D. 1799, “An Act to Expand Maine’s High-quality Early Learning and Care for Children by Increasing Public Preschool Opportunities in Communities,” is based on a model that we’ve already seen succeed in the Midcoast: Bath and Brunswick offer high-quality preschool in multiple places — our public schools, our YMCA and our private child care facilities. It’s a unified model that makes sure families have access to pre-K wherever it is most convenient to them. This means that families can decide where it’s best for their child to learn — maybe it’s where an older sibling already attends the local elementary school, maybe it’s the YMCA that is only two blocks away or maybe there is a beloved, local child care provider that is already part of the family’s routine.

“Our public pre-K program employs state-certified teachers and provides children with learning opportunities that prepare them for kindergarten and beyond. Additionally, we provide all children with weekly swim lessons, music classes, yoga, gymnastics and more through the resources we have available as a community-centered facility,” said Annie Colaluca, the preschool director for the Bath Area Family YMCA, in testimony supporting my bill. “As Maine expands public pre-K availability, we must continue to lift up the mixed-delivery model as a critical component of supporting working families with young children.”

My bill would expand this mixed-delivery model of pre-K education throughout Maine to give more families this support and flexibility. Maine would improve preschool programs within our schools, our community centers and the private businesses that operate on our Main Streets and in the homes of child care providers who run a critical service from their living rooms and backyards.

Today, 79% of Maine school districts offer public preschool, and the Maine Department of Education believes 85% will by 2024. My bill is about closing this gap and leaving no family behind. Work on final bill language is ongoing, but our mission remains clear: to ensure all Maine children have access to quality, early care and education, and all families have child care providers they can trust and rely on — regardless of where they live.

As Nicole Evans, executive director of United Way of Mid Coast Maine, said in her testimony: “Maine has made steady progress in public preschool expansion. Today, we have the opportunity to provide the best start for children for generations to come. Let’s ensure every child, family and community has access to public pre-K. Let’s work to support and value those who we trust to care for and educate our children. Let’s provide full-day, public pre-K to support working families and help organizations and businesses secure a sustainable workforce today while building tomorrow’s thriving economy.”

If you have any questions about this bill or other bills in the Legislature aimed at expanding child care, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can call my Senate office in the State House at 287-1515 or email me directly at

Sen. Eloise Vitelli represents Senate District 24, which includes all of Sagadahoc County, as well as Dresden in Lincoln County.

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