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Our Testimony in Support of Early Childhood Educators

To the Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business and to the Department of Education and Department of Labor Subcommittee: Regarding LD 1652 An Act To Build a Child Care System by Recruiting and Retaining Maine’s Early Childhood Educators Workforce

We are members of Healthy Peninsula’s Healthy Families Initiative, aiming to promote community awareness of Early Childhood issues in our 9-town service area on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle. Mary Ellin Logue is Professor Emerita from the University of Maine in Early Childhood Education, and Sandra Phoenix is a Family Nurse Practitioner and chair of the regional Early Childhood Interest Group.

We enthusiastically support passage of LD 1652 as a means of supporting early learning and wellbeing for Maine’s youngest children during the time in their lives when the seeds for achievement and emotional/behavioral growth are planted. We commend the committee for the comprehensiveness of the bill, its sustainability, and ability to support employment options for families and teachers.

We do recommend that family childcare providers have access to the educational and employment benefits of center-based educators. Of course, those receiving benefits would need to be licensed by the State and providers registered with Maine Roads to Quality to ensure quality care for children. A large number of children are cared for in these settings and many parents work atypical hours. Center-based care is not an option for them and we cannot support a two-tiered system of quality.

We do not see the parental cost of childcare addressed in this bill but trust that discussion is part of the legislation you are planning. We would hate to see the opportunity gap for high quality childcare widen for children and families. Both the sustainability of the childcare system and affordability for parents are linked to quality, and thus to the outcomes we all want for our children.

We write a column in our local newspapers on issues affecting children and families. We aim to build awareness about the importance of birth-5 for the future of our communities. The column published last week addresses the childcare crisis. We attach a copy of the article, published by the Penobscot Bay Press, in support for the importance of this legislation.

Thank you for your forward-thinking proposal and commitment to Maine’s children, families and Early Educators.

Respectfully submitted on May 12, 2021

Mary Ellin Logue, Ed.D. , Professor Emerita Early Childhood Education, College of Education and Human Development Board Member, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469

Sandra Phoenix, APRN-C, MPHFamily Nurse Practitioner, Healthy Peninsula Board Member, Blue Hill, ME 04614

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