Training Underway to Eliminate 'Child Care Deserts' in Maine
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
A community-development nonprofit is helping to counter the sharp decline in child care providers in Maine by offering the training needed to start and maintain a child care business.
The Childcare Business Lab, launched by Coastal Enterprises, is a free, six-month program of in-person and online workshops to help people secure the startup funds required to open a home-based or commercial child care location.
Cynthia Murphy, senior program director for workforce solutions at Coastal Enterprises, said participants also learn how to recruit and hire employees and navigate the licensing process.
"And then we also pair everyone up with an individual business adviser who helps to tailor what they learn in the workshops to meet the needs of each individual community," Murphy outlined.
Murphy pointed out it includes a program in Lewiston for English-language learners interested in running centers incorporating their own culture's music or food. She noted some 40 future providers are currently enrolled in the Child Care Business Lab with the hope of opening their own businesses in time for next school year.
Gov. Janet Mills allocated $10 million through the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to help child care businesses launch or expand, and hopefully eliminate so-called "child care deserts" throughout the state.
Murphy pointed out many parents and grandparents are using the Child Care Business Lab to prevent others from experiencing the same struggles they have in finding affordable, quality care.
"We're finding people who have an interest and a passion in early childhood education who have long commutes to work and are interested in creating a good job for themselves," Murphy observed.
Murphy added one recent graduate opened a facility for shift workers at the Poland Springs bottling factory after struggling to find child care to match her own work schedule. A Coastal Enterprises survey found 20% of parents sending their children to centers started through the Child Care Business Lab were able to start a full-time job.
Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.
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