Senate approves Libby bill to increase access to child care
AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate approved a bill from Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, to increase payments to care providers that serve working families in a vote of 25-6 on Monday.
LD 166, “An Act to Increase Reimbursement for Child Care Services,” would raise the reimbursement rate for child care providers to the 75th percentile of local market rates. This increase would allow more child care providers to care for children from working families.
“Child care providers are critical to the success of our workforce and youngest Mainers,” said Sen. Libby. “However, if we continue to shortchange providers, they will no longer be able to afford to care for children from working families, hamstringing Maine families living at the poverty line. Increasing pay rates sets Maine providers and families on a more sustainable path for the future.”
Under current law, the state reimburses child care providers who serve income-eligible working families through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. In the 2011-2012 budget, the state reduced the reimbursement to the 50th percentile, making it difficult for child care providers to afford to care for children from working families and greatly reducing the number of providers willing to accept child care subsidies.
With fewer affordable child care options, it is difficult for working families to move out of poverty and fully participate in the economy.
LD 166 will now go to the House for enactment.