Sen. Millett introduces bill to increase funding for child care providers
Millett: “Ensuring our youngest children have the opportunity to build strong foundations is essential to their accomplishments in their school years and beyond.”
AUGUSTA — Legislation from Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, LD 1012, “An Act to Provide Stable Funding and Support for Child Care Providers,” received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on Friday. The bill would increase reimbursement rates for child care providers.
“Research is clear that high-quality child care with warm, responsive, and skilled caregivers; healthy and safe environments; and connections to community supports help promote healthy development for infants and toddlers and creates a strong base for the future,” said Sen. Millett. “Yet, far too many infants and toddlers lack access to child care environments that foster healthy outcomes.”
Improvements in staff ratios along with training and modest caregiver compensation initiatives can produce considerable improvements in the quality of care. The strongest effects of quality child care are found with at-risk children – children from families with few resources and under great stress. At-risk infants and toddlers often receive poor quality child care that can diminishes their potential and leads to poor cognitive, social and emotional developmental outcomes.
The Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry, who is a member of the national organization Fight Crime: Invest In Kids, spoke at Friday’s hearing, saying, “We know from our own experiences what the research and evidence show – getting all children, and especially at-risk children, on the right start in life can reduce later crime.”
Adequate funding will keep child care rates at levels needed to ensure that programs can provide high-quality infant and toddler care. This bill proposes incentives to improve the quality of child care by ensuring a higher rate of pay for those who accept infants. Additionally, under the tiered rate system, rates increase as quality increases under the current four-step child care quality rating system.
No one spoke in opposition to LD 1012 at Friday’s public hearing.
The bill faces more action in the committee and votes before the Maine Senate and House.