January 12, 2023
FARMINGTON, Maine – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today visited the University of Maine at Farmington’s (UMF) Child Care and Early Education Center to see how the school is using $2 million in federal funding to renovate and expand the facility and operations. The center received $1 million from the American Rescue Plan and $1 million in Congressionally-Directed Spending secured by Senator Susan Collins and supported by Senator King. During the visit, Senator King met with UMF leaders, students, and parents to discuss the importance of childcare and a childcare workforce to Franklin County, the success of the University’s programs, and how the new funds are helping these important efforts.
The expansion of the University of Maine at Farmington’s Child Care and Early Education Center will create a 10,384 square foot state-of-the-art child care and academic facility that will improve its ability to provide high-quality care in Franklin County, including by adding 20 new slots for local infants and toddlers.
“UMF’s Child Care and Early Education Center is more than just a place where children spend their time – it’s a vital community resource that sets Franklin County youth up for a lifetime of learning and success,” said Senator Angus King. “The federally-backed renovation will expand access to childcare for families across the region, help address the serious workforce shortage in the vital child care sector, and have positive ripple effects throughout the community and economy. Without affordable childcare, parents are forced out of the workforce and businesses miss out on talented employees – which makes this funding a force multiplier and among the most important investments we can make for the future of our state. I’m so grateful for everything the University of Maine at Farmington is doing to invest in Maine people and enjoyed the chance to see how this new funding will grow its fantastic programs.”
“Through Sweatt-Winter, the University of Maine at Farmington has served families in Franklin County and the surrounding area for more than 30 years. As Sen. King saw first-hand today, our new facility will expand on both that legacy and UMF's continuing commitment to provide child care for working parents and to educate Maine’s future generation of early childhood educators,” said UMF President Joseph McDonnell. “We are thankful for the Maine congressional delegation's support of this project, as well as that of Governor Mills, the Maine Legislature, the University of Maine System and many local and state partners. This remarkable facility sets our campus and community apart when it comes to meeting the needs of early childhood educators, area families needing quality child care and Maine employers."
Because of the efforts and support of both Senators Collins and King, the center will allow for a 20% expansion of the University’s undergraduate and graduate early childhood education programs. This boost will help address critical state workforce needs in the childcare and early education sector.
Senator King has long worked to expand access to child care and reduce the workforce shortage in the critical sector. He secured millions to improve child care services in the 2022 and 2023 omnibus appropriations bills, and recently worked to authorize the planning and development of a new child development center at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.