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New report highlights challenges of Maine's child care workforce

According to the report by the Council for a Strong America, 141 child care providers in Maine shut down during the pandemic.

MAINE, USA — On Thursday, leaders in Maine continued efforts to strengthen support for child care providers across the state. 

Business leaders and policymakers held a press conference, highlighting the state's child care industry's struggles and the need for investment. 

"These past two years have made it undeniably clear how important childcare is to the functioning of our economy. Parents have had to juggle childrearing and work simultaneously while businesses came face-to-face with the reality that without reliable childcare, parents can't work," Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, said.

Bennett was joined by Maine Speaker of the House Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, and leaders in Maine's business community to discuss the findings of a new report by the Council for a Strong America

According to the report's findings, 141 child care providers had to close permanently during the pandemic. The report stated there are roughly 77,000 children under the age of six. According to the report, 71% of those children have all available parents in the workforce.

"In order for Maine to recover financially from the pandemic and continue to grow economically, it's clear that we need to ensure that parents in the workforce have access to high-quality, affordable child care. If we don't make this a reality, we will continue to see employers and employees struggle," Quincy Hentzel, CEO of the Greater Portland Chamber of Commerce, said.

Findings from the report showed since 2010, the number of family child care providers in Maine had dropped 27.5%.

"Maine's early childhood educators support the development of our children while their parents work. They are the workforce behind our workforce. They work incredibly hard and deserve access to professional development opportunities and compensation that allows them to support their own families," Fecteau said. 

Earlier this week, the legislature's Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement, and Business unanimously supported a bill sponsored by Fecteau to raise the wages of Maine's child care workers. 

Gov. Janet Mills proposed $12 million to fund the legislation in her supplemental budget to increase pay for child care workers and early childhood educator.

To view the full report on Maine's child care workforce, click here.

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