Funding Bill For Child Care Services In Aroostook County Unanimously Clears Key Legislative Committee

AUGUSTA – Parents looking for child care services in northern Maine may soon have more options after a bill to provide funding recently cleared a key legislative committee.

The bill, LD 1988, was sponsored by Senator Trey Stewart, R-Aroostook, and provides $1 million in one-time funding to expand child care services at the Northern Maine Community College (NMCC) campus in Presque Isle. The funding will also allow the college to access $1.5 million in matching funds through the NMCC Foundation and a capital campaign.

During testimony in front of the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee on Wednesday, May 24, Stewart said the funding should help NMCC’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) Program gain accreditation and increase the training capacity, thereby increasing the number of available child care workers. It will also allow much-needed renovations of existing space to house the new child care center.

“We are all very well aware of the critical child care shortage throughout the state, Northern Maine being no exception. Northern Maine Community College is ready and excited to be able to provide a healthy, safe, nurturing environment for children,” he told committee members. “Having a reliable local provider allows parents to maintain employment, which, in turn, only strengthens our economy.”

With the funding, the college will be able to begin the bidding process for construction of the new training center that would double the training capacity of the college’s ECE program, which offers students the option of either a two-year associate degree or certificate. After completion, the child care center will have 47 slots available to students with children, NMCC staff and the greater community.

“This project will benefit children in our community and NMCC students who need child care by directly addressing the current workforce challenges caused by parents’ inability to find reliable child care,” stated NMCC President Timothy Crowley. “This project addresses two major causes of this problem: the insufficient number of licensed providers and the limited number of total slots available. We appreciate the support received from our community to advance this project.”

LD 1988 received unanimous support from the committee and will now head to the Senate floor.

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