Federal Government Awards CEI $400,000 to Incubate Child Care Businesses in Rural Maine

September 30, 2019 – Brunswick, Maine – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Community and Economic Development (CED) program today awarded $400,000 to CEI for the first year of a five-year initiative to expand access to child care in rural Maine’s economically distressed “Rim Counties,” where there are a limited number of child care providers. The discretionary award, which includes funds that CEI will deploy as loans, will support the startup and operation of new child care enterprises. In the first year of the initiative, CEI’s goal is to help launch up to five quality child care businesses prioritizing 40% of the newly created child care spots for families with low incomes.

Child care enterprises satisfy three important, complementary economic needs. They eliminate a barrier many parents face when they want to work. They provide education and enrichment to our youngest residents and create new job opportunities in their own right for child care workers.

CEI will use these federal funds to establish an incubator to help individuals plan and launch a new child care enterprise, then operate it sustainably. CEI and its regional partners will offer specialized child care industry knowledge and resources to support business plan development and accreditation, access to capital, staffing, hiring and operations. In addition, CEI will collaborate with registered apprenticeship programs to attract and retain employees and help them earn specified credentials and associated wage increases. As part of the incubator experience, child care providers will be paired with a mentor—an existing child care business owner—who has completed a course in mentorship and is able help grow the next generation of child care professionals.

“More child care options will enable more parents in rural Maine to work,” said CEI President Keith Bisson. “Child care entities have long been overlooked as social enterprises, yet they fill an important societal need and invest in their communities.”

Data show that the unmet need for child care is significant. Across Maine, only 26.5% of children up to 14-years-old (55,000 children) are enrolled in paid child care, suggesting that there are parents who would like to be in the labor force who cannot participate because they don’t have child care options. Many parents in rural communities either work part-time or not at all. Compounding the challenge, the number of family-based child care businesses (the predominant offering in rural areas) has declined 28% in Maine from 2010 to 2016.

The incubator is slated to launch in early 2020. If you are interested in starting a child care business and would like to learn more about the initiative, please email CEI at workforcesolutions@ceimaine.org.

About CEI
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) helps to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises and shared prosperity in Maine and in rural regions across the country by integrating financing, business and industry expertise, and policy solutions. CEI envisions a world in which communities are economically and environmentally healthy, enabling all people, especially those with low incomes, to reach their full potential. More at www.ceimaine.org