Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Policy brief details wins, continued challenges, potential solutions in child care sector

AUGUSTA — Maine’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (MePCSW) released a policy brief last week detailing recent progress, remaining challenges, and potential solutions regarding the child care sector in Maine.

Affordable, accessible child care is critical to Maine women and their families, as well as Maine’s businesses and overall economy. The policy brief, titled “Maine Needs Quality, Affordable Child Care,” compiles and amplifies the research and advocacy other groups and individuals have undertaken on this issue.

“Mainers – especially mothers and child care providers – have long known that the child care sector has had more than its fair share of challenges recently,” said Anne Gass, Chair of MePCSW. “We want to acknowledge the hard work that the legislature and Governor Janet Mills have done recently to make quality child care more affordable and accessible for Maine families. Many businesses have stepped up as well. But more work remains.”

Remaining gaps include:

  • Expanding access to child care for families in rural areas of the state, especially in counties such as Piscataquis, Penobscot, and some of Aroostook;
  • Standardizing state and local regulations around building safety to help streamline the permitting process for child care sites; 
  • Encouraging businesses to adopt more policies that support working parents, women as well as men, such as subsidies, as well as flex-time or work-from-home options, especially when a child is sick;
  • Strengthening subsidies to child care workers so they can afford to join – or remain in – the child care workforce. 

Maine’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (MePCSW) is a non-partisan, independent advisory board charged by statute with advising Maine policymakers on matters that impact Maine’s women and girls. It is supported by staff within the Maine Department of the Secretary of State. Commission members represent a variety of fields, backgrounds and political persuasions.