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February 06, 2023

Applications Now Open for CEI’s Child Care Business Lab

Helping child care business owners create good jobs for themselves while boosting the economy

February 6, 2023 (Brunswick, ME) – To help people with a passion for early child development start a child care business, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is offering its Child Care Business Lab for a fourth consecutive year. CEI is currently accepting applications for the 2023 Child Care Business Lab which will begin in March. Applications are open to anyone living in Maine and are due on March 4, 2023. The application and more information are available at Child Care Business Lab | CEI (

“The time is right to start a child care business in Maine,” said Jennifer Sporzynski, SVP, Business and Workforce Development at CEI. “An unprecedented amount of grant funding is available through Governor Mills’ Maine Jobs & Recovery Act to help people start and grow child care businesses. Securing a grant reduces the amount of money someone needs to borrow and ensures they start their business on firm financial footing.”

The Child Care Business Lab is a six-month cohort or group-based program that provides entrepreneurs with the tools they need to open a successful child care service from creating a business plan to developing policies to securing start-up funds and coaching through the licensing process. Three groups are starting in March:

  • People interested in opening a home-based child care business (Family Child Care Group)
  • People interested in opening a child care facility located in a commercial building (Facility Child Care Group)
  • English language learners in Lewiston (Lewiston Group)

The Family Child Care and Facility Child Care programs consist of workshops conducted live via Zoom, in-person sessions, on-demand online learning sessions, one-on-one meetings with a business advisor and personalized coaching sessions with a child care mentor.  All sessions for the Lewiston Group will be in person. Each program will include people interested in starting for-profit, nonprofit and cooperative child care businesses. At the conclusion of the program, participants will have completed all the requirements to be licensed.

The program is offered free to all participants, thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation, the John T. Gorman Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation and the Lumina Foundation.

Child care business owners create good jobs for themselves

Participants in the Child Care Business Lab are motivated by a variety of factors. Some, like Miranda Taylor of Taylor’s Tots in Canton, Maine, are moms who want to create a good job that blends their professional experience with family life. “It was always a dream of mine to have my own daycare after working in a preschool for six years. CEI’s Childcare Business Lab prepared me for the licensing process, to get a business loan and build a daycare addition on to my home,” said Taylor. “Months later, I now have my own successful business which is filling a need in my community. I am able to walk down the hall to work every day with my daughter.”

Some are grandmothers, including Tabitha Bennett, who said, “When my first grandchild was born and my daughter wanted to return to work, she couldn’t find child care. The solution? I opened Little Bird Child Care in Pembroke in 2020 and now we are very busy. Taking care of the kids is the easy part. Managing the business and getting all the ducks in the row – CEI had that all laid out in a step-by-step fashion, which was really helpful.”

Stuck in a boring entry-level job, Luisa Dias yearned to get back to the profession she trained for back home in Angola: child care. “I never thought it would be possible to learn the U.S. child care system, earn a license and run my own business,” said Luisa. “Today, I am a member of a cooperative child care in Lewiston along with my sister and two other women. The personal attention I still receive from CEI helped me create a job I am proud to have. And, it’s a job that is helping my neighbors feel comfortable working full time while their children are in a safe, warm space.”

Boosting the economy

Finding child care is a challenge for most working parents,” said Keith Bisson, President, CEI. “Lack of child care keeps parents out of work, negatively affecting a family’s economic well-being and causing a ripple effect across the State.”

In a recent survey, 21% of parents sending children to child care businesses started with help from the Child Care Business Lab indicated they were able to start a full time job when they enrolled their children in a high quality, safe child care service. An additional 4% of parents indicated they were able to start a part-time job.

Building on decades of experience

New child care entrepreneurs face many of the same challenges and risks that other small business owners encounter, but with the added complexity of operating in a highly regulated environment. CEI designed the Child Care Business Lab with help from Maine Roads to Quality, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child and Family Services Children’s Licensing and Investigation Services, and the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children. During its 45-year history, CEI has advised and/or provided over $15 million in financing to more than 200 child care businesses, helping to create or preserve more than 7,200 child care slots. Child Care Business Lab graduates have opened 16 new child care businesses licensed for 330 children since the program launched in February 2020.

About CEI

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) works to build a just, vibrant and climate-resilient future for people and communities in Maine and rural regions by integrating finance, business expertise and policy solutions in ways that make the economy work more equitably. For more information, visit

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