Child-care system needs immediate support

To the editor: 

Recent news articles have provided important insight into the child care crisis Maine is facing. While the crisis has been looming for years, the pandemic has worsened it.

One report indicating that 10 percent of child care centers in Maine have closed since the start of the pandemic and a local news and BDN story reporting one Caribou child care center has lost 23 teachers during the pandemic are stark examples of this crisis that we must address immediately.

Maine families, including many first responders, depend on a robust child care system. Maine’s economy and employers do as well. Most importantly, high-quality child care helps kids learn skills they need to do well in school, stay safe, and succeed as adults. Quality child care also helps improve community safety, by providing a safe and nurturing place for kids to grow and learn while their parents work. Their importance is magnified as we are recovering from the pandemic that has worsened Maine’s labor shortage — with lack of child care cited as a major workforce barrier for parents in every industry in Maine.

The pandemic has focused a much-needed spotlight on several of Maine’s economic and family challenges. A healthy, strong and well-supported child care system is one, and one that is inextricably linked to public safety and the strength and success of Maine’s workforce and citizens. I urge Maine policymakers to continue moving forward efforts and boosting investments that strengthen this system, including its workforce, with the urgency the crisis requires.

Michael Gahagan
Caribou Chief of Police

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