United for Child Care

United for Child Care

Like many families, Molly and Sam started their search for child care before their daughter was born. After two years of waiting, Sam decided to stay home as Violet’s primary caregiver while Molly continued to work full-time. However, sudden health complications meant Sam could no longer fill that role. They needed to find a spot for Violet—fast.

Fortunately, Youth and Family Outreach (YFO) had a place for them. YFO provides high-quality, reliable child care to 58 children, six weeks to five years of age. They prioritize enrolling families that are at or below the federal poverty line, born to teen parents, are unhoused, or are from immigrant or refugee families. With support from United Way of Southern Maine, 60% of their spots are for children from low-income households while 40% are for non-low-income households. The skilled teachers at YFO nurture children with rich interactions, anti-racist practices, and high-quality early learning experiences.

“Having my child at Youth and Family Outreach has provided safe, high-quality child care and education. It’s plugged us into the YFO community. I’ve met so many other people and children at YFO who we would not normally be connected to.”

Having child care meant that Molly could continue to pursue her career and Sam could seek treatment. It meant that Violet could get critical social-emotional development and be better prepared to enter school. Because of YFO, their family was connected to a wider community of neighbors that they would otherwise not have been connected to.
The benefits are vast, but the reality is that high-quality child care is out of reach for many families. 50% of child care centers in Maine have waiting lists. YFO’s waiting list is now more than 150 children long. At the same time, nearly 60% of child care centers have staff shortages. YFO currently has one classroom closed because they cannot hire new staff.

“Our teachers are doing the most important job in the world. When someone invests in early childhood, we reduce the likelihood that someone will be imprisoned. We reduce the likelihood that somebody will be a homeless adult and we increase the chances that these little people will graduate from high school.”

United Way of Southern Maine invests in YFO, and other child care centers and programs, so that more children in Southern Maine can get a strong start. 80-90% of brain development happens in the first five years, so early learning sets the foundation for a child’s future development and success. United Way also invests in professional development so that more individuals can enter the workforce and advocate for better pay and benefits for educators at the state level. Last year, 81 local individuals received their Certificate in Child Development, thanks to United Way support.

All Maine families deserved access to high-quality, reliable child care. Help us make that a reality for our community with a contribution today.