May 9, 2023
TWO PRIORITY CHILD CARE BILLS
It is going to be a busy day in the Maine State House tomorrow, Wednesday May 10! Child care advocates from across the state will be joining together at 10 am in the Health and Human Services Committee meeting to support LD 1726: “An Act to Build Maine’s Economy by Supporting Child Care for Working Families”; and at 1 pm in the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee for LD 1799: “An Act to Expand Maine’s High-quality Early Learning and Care for Children by Increasing Public Preschool Opportunities in Communities.” United Way of Southern Maine is supporting both of these bills, and we need you to speak up and advocate for Maine’s children, educators, and working families.
LD 1726: “An Act to Build Maine’s Economy by Supporting Child Care for Working Families.”
Three years into the pandemic child care continues to be in crisis. Recent surveys have reported that 40% of child care programs are understaffed. Families say they wait an average of up to seven months to access child care. Businesses recognize that their employees are struggling to find child care and feel the burden. Families struggle with monthly costs that are often higher than a mortgage payment.
Federal funding has worked to keep the doors of many programs open, but that funding is about to run out. We need Maine solutions to hold up our child care sector and invest in our youngest children.
Our Lawmakers need to hear from you now. Encourage them to support and pass LD 1726: “An Act to Build Maine’s Economy by Supporting Child Care for Working Families.”
LD 1799: “An Act to Expand Maine’s High-quality Early Learning and Care for Children by Increasing Public Preschool Opportunities in Communities.”
High-quality early education and care can make all the difference, setting children up for success in school and beyond. In Maine, we’ve made great progress on public Pre-K expansion, but there’s still work to be done. Join us in advocating for LD 1799, which will increase access to high-quality pre-K opportunities for all Maine children.
- The path we set children upon, in their earliest years, can make a huge difference. Research has shown that high-quality early education and care from birth through pre-kindergarten will result in more successful outcomes.
- Pre-K is an important foundational building block for a child’s later learning.
- Early childhood is when children acquire the foundation of many skills needed for jobs, including cognitive and character skills. Quality pre-K can help build these skills.
- High-quality pre-K can shrink gaps between students from lower-income families and their wealthier counterparts (by 41 percent for reading and 27 percent for math).
- Children who attend high-quality pre-K are more likely to arrive at kindergarten ready to learn, are less likely to be held back in school or to need special education, and more likely to be proficient in reading and math.
- Pre-K participants also have an increased probability of graduating from high school and are less likely to have behavioral problems throughout their school years.
Maine has made steady progress on public pre-K expansion over the past decade, reaching 50% enrollment for the first time ever. Now it’s time to explore a mixed delivery system that expands pre-K to a full school day to better match the needs of working parents and aligns professional development and a career lattice for all early educators.
[Note: These bills were funded through the budget that was passed and signed into law. Thank you to our advocates for raising their voices for Maine families.]
STATE HOUSE UPDATE
It is that time of the year in the Maine Legislature, when things start to move fast–long-awaited bills have started to come out, and the longer notice for public hearings has been waived. Committees are working non-stop on public hearings and work sessions.
LEGISLATION CONNECTED TO THRIVE2027 GOALS 1, 2, & 3:
Here are bills UWSM is supporting this session:
LD 2 – “An Act to Address Maine’s Housing Crisis”
Establishes the Housing First Program within the Department of Health and Human Services to facilitate the delivery of stabilization and support services to residents of properties established or developed to provide permanent housing to persons who have been chronically homeless.
Status: UWSM submitted written testimony. The Joint Select Committee on Housing endorsed LD 2 by an 8-2 margin.
LD 3 – “An Act to Establish the Winter Energy Relief Payment Program to Aid Residents with High Heating Costs”
Provides relief to an estimated 1,000 Maine households to cover the high costs for home heating as well as to support housing and prevent homelessness.
Status: The bill has been signed into law. ✅
LD 18 – “An Act to Provide Ongoing Funding for up to 2 Years of Community College for Certain Maine Students”
Provides ongoing funding for high school graduates and individuals who obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma to receive a waiver of tuition and fees for up to 2 years in the Maine Community College System.
Status: A public Hearing has not yet been scheduled.
LD 67 – “An Act to Increase the Number of Educational Professionals by Accepting Out-of-state Certification”
Requires the Department of Education to accept a certificate as an administrator, teacher, educational technician or educational specialist issued by another state, the District of Columbia, a United States territory or other country as qualification for such a certificate in this State.
Status: UWSM testified and a work session is scheduled for May 3.
LD 258 – “An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds, and Changing Certain” Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2023, June 30, 2024, and June 30, 2025.
Status: UWSM testified on a few provisions of the budget.
- Testimony in Support of the Proposed Initiative Related to the Maine State Grant Program
- Testimony in Support of the Governor’s proposed initiative related to New Venture Maine funding
- Testimony in Support of the Proposed Initiative Related to the MCCS Free Community College
- Testimony in support of the Governor’s Proposed Initiatives Relating to Behavioral Health Services and Response to the Opioid Crisis
LD 1050 – “Resolve, Directing the Department of Labor to Request a Federal Waiver to Allow Presumptive Work Eligibility for Asylum Seekers”
Directs the Commissioner of Labor to request a waiver from the United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to allow an asylum seeker in the State, if the asylum seeker has applied for asylum and has not been denied, eligibility to work in the State for the 6 months immediately after the asylum seeker has applied for asylum.
Status: The Labor and Housing Committee added an emergency preamble to LD 1050, which means that it would go into effect upon passage instead of 90 days after the session ends in June. UWSM testified on this bill.
LD 1074 – “An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Fund New Affordable Housing for Low-income Households”
The funds provided by this bond issue, in the amount of $100,000,000, will be used to build new affordable housing for low-income households through the construction of new structures and adaptive reuse of existing structures.
Status: Public hearing took place on April 25 at 1 pm and UWSM provided a written Testimony.
If you would like to know more about how you can advocate for a thriving community, please contact us at email@example.com.