As School Administrative Units continue their efforts in constructing re-opening plans that keep the safety and well-being of students, families, and staff at the center of their decision making, one of the many critical considerations will be child care options for families, especially when schools are operating hybrid and distance-learning only models.
Availability of child care, particularly for students in PK-Grade 5, will be essential, as will coordination between SAUs and child care settings. As SAUs continue to gather input from families and shape plans, ascertaining which families have child care needs as a result of the varied school re-opening models will be particularly helpful to both schools and child care facilities.
SAUs are strongly encouraged to coordinate planning with local child care providers. Determining if adequate child care options exist for families within the SAU, as well as building contingency plans to address identified and/or anticipated need, will enable smoother transitions, especially between the various risk-status designs. Additionally, child care providers will be better able to collaborate with schools to support distance learning designs if they can be partners in the planning process (see contacts for local child care providers below).
The Maine Department of Education and Office of Child and Family Services in the Department of Health and Human Services are positioned to support SAUs in exploring child care considerations and in addressing identified child care needs. Funding provided through the ESSER funds and CRF funds may be expended to support needs related to child care and maintaining continuity of instruction as a result of COVID-19 precautions. Additionally, the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) can provide technical assistance to help SAUs connect with licensed child cares in their school systems, problem solve child care related issues, and explore expansion of child care availability for families. Contacts for OCFS staff who can provide assistance are listed below. Contacts from the Maine DOE’s Early Learning Team, who may also be equipped to answer related questions, are also listed. Finally, OCFS is willing to schedule a technical assistance session for Superintendents to answer questions and gather needs. If interested in this type of session, please complete this poll by August 16, 2020.
Office of Child and Family Services
- Pattie Collins, Child Care Licensing Supervisor, Pattie.Collins@maine.gov
- Jennifer Welch, Child Care Licensing Supervisor, Jennifer.S.Welch@maine.gov
- Nicole Madore, Early Childhood Specialist, Nicole.Madore@maine.gov
- Lee Anne Larsen, Early Learning Team Coordinator, Leeann.Larsen@maine.gov
Child Care Providers: Child Care Choices website