This fall, we celebrate with Thania Centeno as she realizes her dream in starting a childcare center – Mis Primeros Pasos (Spanish for “My First Steps”). For a long time, Thania knew she wanted to work with children. In recent years, she gained experience working in various childcare and educational settings. Through hard work and dedication, she graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Machias, while being a mother of two beautiful girls.
Working mothers are leaving the workforce.
Passionate about farms, food and children, Anna Wardwell, owner of Little Learners Homestead, LLC, in Hampden, Maine, had always dreamed of running a “daycare without walls.”
Children of working parents can spend up to half of their waking hours in child care. When that child’s first language is something other than English, it can mean missed opportunities to practice and learn their native language – a vital loss of connection to family and culture.
In 2019, Stephanie was pregnant with her first child and knew that she wanted to return to work after the child was born, but despite searching her town of Calais and the surrounding area, Stephanie was unable to find a quality child care option without a significant waiting list.
Newly renovated Reed School: home to Children’s Odyssey (right), and future affordable housing units (left)
Seedlings to Sunflowers, a start-up nonprofit childcare center in Gorham, broke ground on its new facility on Friday, November 10, 2017. Friends Marissa Ritz and Meghann Carrasco were both consumers of the childcare industry. After navigating waitlists, high teacher turnover, less than ideal curriculums and the lack of collaboration between centers and parents, they both were left wanting more for their children.
At ARWO Learning Center, located in Portland, Maine, you find faces of the future: ARWO’s young charges, and its founder, Naima Abdirhmon, who immigrated here from Somalia.
Sending a young child — or infant — to childcare is a reality faced by many working parents today. Three years ago, Angela Garrison found herself with limited choices for her two young daughters. In a leap of faith, she decided to become a both a small business owner, and childcare provider for her daughters and five other children. At Beansprouts, in Freeport, Maine, Angela incorporated things she was looking for: an emphasis on natural and organic food, an environmentally friendly space and a creative early childhood curriculum. Beansprouts opened its doors in July 2013 and in just over a year, has grown to 64 children enrolled with waiting lists for many programs. Beansprouts’ sucess speaks to Angela’s entreprenurial acumen, and a ready market.