Maine Child Care Providers Eligible for Stabilization Grants

The deadline for child care providers to apply for the current funding cycle is September 30, 2021.

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced Monday it will distribute $ 73 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to child care providers in Maine for help them increase staff salaries and cover costs related to COVID-19.

The money is intended to further support Maine families’ access to safe, affordable and high-quality child care, according to a DHHS statement.

The DHHS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) will award Child Care Stabilization Grants to help eligible child care providers cover a variety of costs related to COVID- 19. Providers who receive grants must use part of the funds to pay bonuses of $ 200 per month to staff who directly care for children, and additional funds can be used to pay for expenses such as rent and utilities. , lower costs for families, lost income, personal protective equipment and testing, and mental health services for children and employees, according to a DHHS release.

Grant amounts will vary based on capacity and staff, and additional funds will be available for programs that meet the state’s highest quality standards, participate in the Child Care Subsidy Program, and offer extended hours to meet the needs of parents with non-traditional work schedules.

“Maine’s child care providers have been critical in providing a safe place for children to learn and grow while allowing their parents to go to work and contribute to our economic recovery,” Governor Janet Mills said in a statement. Monday press release. “These US bailout grants will help child care providers deal with the challenges presented by the pandemic, including staffing and lost income, and will allow us to build a child care system. Stronger, more sustainable and affordable children in our state – something that is vital as we strengthen our economy.

Tara Williams, executive director of the Maine Association for Early Childhood Education, said these monthly grants “can bring some calm to what has been a constant storm in Maine child care.”

“These federal funds coming into Maine through the American Rescue Plan Act are at a level that can really stabilize our child care industry. Most of the previous child care assistance funds did not. covered only a small portion of the losses suffered by the programs, ”said Williams. Maine NEWS CENTER by email. “So while most stayed open, their debts piled up. These monthly grants can bring some calm to what has been a constant storm in Maine daycares, with so many programs struggling to stay afloat. . “

“What is most exciting and brings hope to teachers, staff and leaders of child care programs in Maine is that our federal government is talking about a more permanent solution,” he said. she continued. “Congress is debating legislation this week that would make a significant public investment in child care, which would allow Maine to have strong, stable and thriving child care programs for children and families. “

The deadline for child care providers to apply for the current grant funding cycle is September 30, 2021. To date, 951 of Maine providers (58%) have applied for these grants, according to DHHS.

“Access to affordable, high-quality child care is one of the most important ways to support working families in Maine during and after the pandemic,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew , in Monday’s press release. “These grants will give providers the resources they need as part of our larger plan to chart a sustainable recovery and a better future for Maine’s child care system.”

Child Care Stabilization Grant Applications can be found here.

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