As the Maine State Legislature continues to meet and work, improving access to quality, affordable child care remains a top priority for my colleagues and me. We remain committed to supporting Maine child care providers of all sizes and helping them keep their doors open. We also want to increase the number of slots in child care programs and ensure that providers can attract and retain staff. This means we should treat and compensate child care workers like the professionals they are.

Donna Bailey

My colleagues, Senate President Troy Jackson and Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, have sponsored bills that would make child care more affordable for Maine families and promote and expand public preschool partnerships across the state, respectively. As someone who enrolled in one of the first-ever Head Start classes, I personally know the value of programs that promote school readiness and enhance the cognitive, social, and emotional development for young people, ages newborn to five years old, who come from families with low incomes. Without this “head start,” many of these people would spend their entire lives falling farther behind and struggling with the ever-widening opportunity gap. That’s why it’s critical that we invest in child care for Maine children and families.

Jackson’s bill LD 1726, “An Act to Build Maine’s Economy by Supporting Child Care for Working Families,” would raise wages for Maine’s child care workers. Last year, the Legislature and Gov. Janet Mills approved a $200 per month wage stipend for child care providers, which raised the average hourly wage from $14.90 to $16.05. This year, we have an opportunity, through LD 1726, to double the stipend from $200 per month to $400 per month, increasing the average hourly wage to $17.20. If we raise these wages, then we can directly support the workforce behind the workforce.

Vitelli’s bill LD 1799, “An Act to Expand Maine’s High-quality Early Learning and Care for Children by Increasing Public Preschool Opportunities in Communities,” would help all of Maine model what has already worked well in the Midcoast communities of Bath and Brunswick. These communities offer high-quality preschool in public schools, YMCA facilities, Head Start programs, and private child care facilities. Multiple options allow Maine families to select the convenient, flexible program that works for them and their life and work schedules. LD 1799 would expand this mixed-delivery model of pre-K education throughout Maine.

Between these two bills, the Maine State Legislature and the Governor can continue to invest in Maine’s child care system, as well as the workers who provide critical care in our communities. These investments benefit Maine children, families, and workers. A strong, well-supported child care system will also help Maine compete with its New England neighbors and draw more families and workers. Most importantly, investments in young Mainers, from the earliest age, will help set them up for success for the rest of their lives.

Representative Donna Bailey can be reached at or 207-287-1515.

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