Last week, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed a bipartisan budget bill that includes $12 million in state general funds to provide $200 monthly stipends for direct early care and education (ECE) workers.
Last week, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed a bipartisan budget bill that includes $12 million in state general funds to provide $200 monthly stipends for direct early care and education (ECE) workers. This is a continuation of funding for stipends, launched in 2021 with money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, that have already supported over 7,000 ECE workers. By July 2023, the state’s current stipend model will transition to a tiered system based on experience and education. This investment will provide a much-needed boost to compensation for the ECE workforce serving infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in Maine, without increasing child care costs for Maine’s families.
Since 2020, Maine public and private early childhood leaders took part in ZERO TO THREE’s Building Strong Foundations for Families (BSFF) project, focused on building and strengthening comprehensive policies, programs and systems that support families with infants and toddlers. The Maine BSFF team prioritized increasing ECE workforce compensation and worked together to develop a report titled State Policy Options for Early Childhood Educator Compensation to inform state policy choices. This report makes the case for why investment in the ECE workforce is needed and summarizes three approaches to increase the compensation of early childhood educators: tax credits, wage supplements, and education awards, along with their advantages and disadvantages. The report, which was informed by the BSFF team’s listening sessions with ECE providers, workers, and families in Maine, as well as discussions with national experts and leaders from other states, helped to guide policymakers in their support for monthly stipends.
Through the BSFF project, ZERO TO THREE supported ten states between 2020-2022 in focusing on the policies and systems needed for families with infants and toddlers to thrive. A forthcoming video series captures state participants’ perspectives on advancing state policies for infants and toddlers, building public-private partnerships, centering family voices, and focusing on racial equity.