The Mills administration has issued the first round of pay increases to about 7,000 child care workers in Maine as part of a two-year budget approved by the Legislature last summer.

The larger monthly stipends, effective in November, are $275 for workers in the first tier, $415 for the second tier and $625 for the third tier, depending on education and experience. An additional $100 per month will be issued to third-tier workers as retroactive pay they have earned in recent months.

Ciaran Grady 4, left, and Annabel Godbout, 3, play at Happy Days at Colby Child Care Center in Waterville last fall. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The increase in salary supplements is part of a bipartisan budget agreement that doubled state funding for the stipends to $30 million annually based on legislation sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson.

The larger, tiered stipends are intended to boost the pay of qualified professionals so they can remain in the industry, help child care providers retain staff, and strengthen Maine’s economy.

“Maine parents need high-quality child care to support the growth, education, and safety of their children and to ensure that they are able to join and stay in the workforce,” Gov. Janet Mills said Friday in a written statement.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services first provided stipends to child care workers at Mills’ direction in September 2021 using federal pandemic aid. They continued with state funding in October 2022 at $200 per worker per month.


The stipends are issued through the Early Childhood Educator Workforce Salary Supplement System. It benefits child care providers and early childhood educators who provide direct services to children in licensed child care facilities and licensed family child care programs.

“The tiered salary supplement program acknowledges the importance of this critical child care workforce and their efforts to provide quality care and education to children,” said Heather Marden, co-executive director of the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children.

Stagnant wages have made it difficult for qualified professionals and child care providers to remain in the industry, Jackson said.

“Maine families, small businesses and the state’s economy depend on child care workers,” he said. “Now that this law has been implemented, we can pick up where we left off and work together to ensure Maine’s child care system works for everyone.”

This is the latest investment in child care by the Mills administration, which has provided more than $100 million in federal funding for child care and early childhood education.

Through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, approved by the Legislature, Mills is investing $15 million to help renovate, expand or build new child care facilities. Earlier this year, Mills announced a $24 million, three-year federal grant award to strengthen community supports and educational opportunities for young children.

As a result of these investments, Maine has maintained and built child care slots beyond pre-pandemic levels and incentivized child care construction to add as many as 4,700 new slots, according to the Mills administration.

“This investment will benefit Maine’s children, communities and economy,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew.

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