The bill will recruit and retain Maine’s child care workforce by increasing pay by about $200 per month
AUGUSTA – Today, the Maine Legislature approved a bill to recruit and retain Maine’s child care workforce from Speaker Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford by a unanimous vote, 130-0.
The bill, LD 1652 “An Act to Build a Child Care System by Recruiting and Retaining Maine’s Early Childhood Educators Workforce” is aimed at addressing Maine’s child care workforce crisis and putting the sector on a path to long-term growth and stability.
LD 1652 would enshrine an investment in Maine’s child care workforce into law, even after one-time federal dollars that were dedicated to supporting Maine’s early educators and child care providers through ARPA dollars expire in the fall of 2022.
Speaker Fecteau collaborated with child care providers and early childhood educators to craft the bill to provide Maine’s child care workforce with a monthly wage supplement, as well as funding to launch or expand early childhood education programs at Maine’s Career and Technical Education schools. In order to incentivize professional development in the field, a tiered wage supplement will be available for all Maine child care workers starting in July 2023, where higher monthly wage supplements are tied to years of experience and higher education attained, helping Maine lead the nation with a world-class child care system.
During the House vote on enactment, Speaker Fecteau stepped down from the rostrum to deliver his only floor speech on a bill before the 130th Legislature, a sign of the significance of this issue.
“Maine’s child care workforce is at a tipping point. We want families to have access to affordable, high quality child care in every corner of the state. This is a critical piece of Maine’s economic health,” said Speaker Fecteau. “This bill aims to recruit and retain this critical workforce so Maine families have the stability and support they need to raise families in this great state. The true cost of providing high-quality child care—with adequate compensation for extremely hard working teachers—is far higher than what working families can afford. Raising parents’ child care fees to pay educators more is not a workable solution. Increased public investment will raise compensation and give all Maine children with working parents an opportunity to access high quality early education and ensure their kids are prepared for Kindergarten.”
“We know that lack of quality affordable child care prevents people from taking jobs, from starting new businesses, from moving to rural communities, and it deprives kids of important developmental care. We’ve worked hard to train more child care workers and to pay them what they deserve, and we’ve built new child care facilities and created more child care slots to better serve Maine families, but we can do more,” said Governor Mills. “I support Speaker Fecteau’s proposal to raise the pay of child care workers in Maine, which is why I included funding to get it done in my supplemental budget, and I applaud lawmakers for voting unanimously to move this legislation forward. I look forward to continuing to do everything we can for working families across our state.”
“In order to grow our economy and strengthen our communities, it is necessary to invest in our early childhood education workforce,” said Rep. Amanda Collamore (R-Pittsfield). “This bill, and the collaborative process that it envisions, is a step in the right direction. When we devote time, energy and resources toward early childhood education, we are nurturing seeds that will bloom in the future.”
“Today we extend gratitude to policymakers in Maine, including Speaker Ryan Fecteau, and all our state legislators who have championed and supported early childhood legislation that lifts up young children, their families, and early childhood educators,” said Tara Williams, executive director of the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children. “Valuing and compensating the child care workforce may be the most critical part of shoring up a strong child care system, since a stable workforce will increase access to quality early care and education In Maine.”
Business and economic development groups, parents and educators supported this Legislation.
“When I was 6 months pregnant, I was desperate to find a childcare provider for my future child. I planned my pregnancy and began adding my name to child care waitlists before conception. I was on over 20 different waitlists in the Greater Portland area. My spot on the waiting list ranged from 145 to 28,” said expectant mother, Angelina Klouthis. “Childcare providers are experiencing some of the lowest wages in the state and they do some of the most important work in our children’s lives. COVID pushed many moms out of the workforce. This bill addresses both recruiting and retaining essential workers. Childcare providers are the backbone of our economy– I can’t work, unless I have childcare options. This bill will clearly help facilitate that for working moms like myself.”
The bill has now been passed by the House and Senate will be placed on the Special Appropriations Table awaiting final budget decisions.
Speaker Fecteau will be joined by over 100 early childhood educators at the state house on Wednesday to honor their work for Maine children and families.
Photo captions: Speaker Fecteau meets with early childhood educators in Orono. Speaker Fecteau delivers floor speech on enactment of LD 1652.