Excessive regulation causing child care issues in Maine
From an experienced child care professional’s perspective, rising costs of care and the loss of almost 600 family child care professionals in Maine are driving desperate parents to use Illegal unlicensed child care. They are more accessible and affordable. The alarming loss of licensed child care is felt especially hard in rural areas of Maine.
This legislative session, policy makers have an opportunity to reduce some regulations and keep more safe licensed qualified places available for young working families to place their children.
Strict regulations do not keep children safe, qualified professionals keep children safe. But they cannot do that if they are drowned out. I have seen many highly qualified, licensed child care facilities close down recently because of many regulations that do not increase the health and safety of children, but do negatively impact the small business owner’s bottom line. Rules that require mulch under climbing structures for family providers or more strict ratio restrictions than other states have, are costly, but do not necessarily make children more safe.
In fact, when parents are desperate enough to use illegal under the radar child care, the children are less safe. Those people do not have even the most basic background checks or building/fire inspections. LD 765 allows in-home child care providers to care for up to 5 children and to be registered and receive those checks so they will meet basic safety standards without having to satisfy excessive and costly regulations.
This will increase the availability of qualified child care professionals and help reduce costs. Keeping children in local qualified licensed settings will help ensure they are safe.
LDs 1423 and 1474, align ratio restrictions with other states and allow qualified child care professionals to remain a reliable resource for Maine’s workforce. I urge Maine’s lawmakers to consider that affordable and accessible child care is vital to retaining and attracting young working families to Maine, and to subsequently attract and retain viable businesses.
Maine Child Care Association