Governor Janet Mills announced Wednesday that her Administration will use a recently approved $24 million Federal grant to strengthen the State’s early childhood system for Maine children and families.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families will enhance a variety of early childhood services for Maine children aged 5 or younger. These will include expanded outreach and programming to families with young children, pilot projects to make Pre-K more accessible, professional development for early childhood educators, and financial support for child care providers to improve their program offerings. The grant will also support the development of an Early Childhood Integrated Data System to help make data-driven decisions about programs and policies to benefit Maine children.
The grant, which runs over three years, will be administered by the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the Early Learning Team at the Department of Education and the staff of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet.
Over the past three years, the Mills Administration has provided more than $100 million in Federal funding for child care. Through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, approved by the Legislature, Governor Mills is investing $15 million to help renovate, expand, or build new child care facilities.
These funds are part of unprecedented investment to increase access to high-quality care and support for Maine’s child care workforce via the state’s first-ever Child Care Plan for Maine (PDF), which charts how OCFS is helping Maine’s child care system recover from the pandemic and improving child care quality, accessibility, and affordability over the long-term.
OCFS is also providing permanent monthly salary supplements for child care workers who provide direct care. Governor Mills supported and signed into law more than $12 million in ongoing state funding for salary supplements for these workers to strengthen the early care and education system across Maine.
As a result of these state and federal investments, Maine has maintained and built child care slots beyond pre-pandemic levels, created permanent salary supports for over 7,000 child careworkers, and incentivized child care construction to add as many as 4,700 new slots as part of the work of the Children’s Cabinet.
Governor Mills, in 2019, announced she would reconvene the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet, which was created in 1996 by then-Governor Angus King as a forum for government agencies to collaborate on policies to support Maine children.
The Children’s Cabinet is comprised of the Commissioners of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, Public Safety, and Corrections, and is coordinated by the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future.