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Maine: The Economic Impact of the Child Care Industry in Maine

Project status

Completed June, 2003

Lead Agency

Early Learning Opportunities Consortium
Portland, ME

Contact Person

Judy Reidt-Parker
People’s Regional Opportunity Program (PROP)
510 Cumberland Ave
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 874-1140

Research Firm

Alex Hildebrand
93 Atlantic St., #2
Portland, ME


  • Number of Establishments
  • Child Care Labor Force
  • Children Served
  • Gross Receipts
  • Number of Parents with Children in Paid Care
  • Multiplier Effects on Local Economy
  • Governmental Transfers / Subsidies
  • Tax Receipts / Fiscal Impact


  • Long Report (15+ Pages)
  • Stand-Alone Executive Summary/Brochure
  • Newspaper Article / Media Coverage
  • Conducted a Series of Presentations
  • Involved Business / Economic Development
  • Video

Case Study

Case Study: Maine
“The Economic Impact of the Child Care Industry in Maine”
Date of Study Completion: June, 2003




Maine's economic impact study was conducted by Cumberland County ACCESS in collaboration with Peoples Regional Opportunity Program. In addition to child care professionals, academics and government officials were included on the advisory committee. Members of the business community were not directly represented, although the report was officially released at a statewide forum for business leaders. The project was funded by a local Early Learning Opportunities Act project with a grant from the Child Care Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


The intent of this study was to give validity to long held assumptions regarding the amount of money generated by the child care industry and how this impacts the success of other industries in Maine . In addition, Cumberland County ACCESS has had a long history of reaching out to business leaders in the community, with limited success. The business community had encouraged child care advocates to move beyond the “merit good” argument for support of the early learning system, and to develop a message that focused on the business and economic developments. Northern New England typically has very small businesses as the core of the business community, rather than Southern New England states that have much larger businesses located in their communities. This results in a need to approach the economic development message on a very individualized message.

The Study:

Sector Definition

The Maine study included licensed child care centers (including Head Start) and family child care homes. This study quantifies the impact of all licensed childcare establishments that care for children ages 0-13. Pre-k programs operated by public schools and informal, unregulated child care were not included.

Data Analysis and Unique Findings

Measurement* Maine
Number of Establishments 1,845
Child Care Labor Force 8,824
Children Served 43,000
Gross Receipts $180.6 million
Number of Parents with Children in Paid Care X
Multiplier Effects on Local Economy X
Governmental Transfers / Subsidies X
Tax Receipts / Fiscal Impact  


*Not all studies included the same components making it difficult to compare the numbers provided in this chart with those of other studies. In its definition of the number of establishments, this study included licensed and regulated center and family, and did not include regulation-exempt center care, regulation-exempt home-based care (informal care) and pre-k in public schools. In its definition of gross receipts, this study included provider charges (parent fees and vouchers in lieu of parent fees), government funded programs (Head Start, UPK), CACFP, but did not include quality dollars spent for training or other provider supports.

The report broke down the revenue impact into four categories: child care centers, family child care homes, federal child care food assistance and indirect and induced revenues. The capture of federal and state subsidies from specific funding sources by the child care industry were also measured. It was found that 80% of the costs of child care are borne by parental fees and that 76% of the state budget for child care consisted of transfers from the CCDF or TANF.

The report addressed the ways in which a healthy child care infrastructure ties into economic development. The report also took a serious look at land use barriers to supply of child care and outlined the steps local jurisdictions could take to decrease the barriers to the development of child care facilities.


Organizational Change and Outreach

Judy Reidt-Parker recommends that teams be well grounded in the belief that child care is a workforce and community infrastructure issue. She also felt that the report has opened a lot of doors and has increased the number of people paying attention to child care.

The organization has produced a video soon to be available on CD and on their website . This will be a companion piece to the report and will include an advocacy guide so that child care advocates have a formal way to reach out to business groups at their gathering places. The group has proceeded with the idea that the report is a “have a heart” trap:

“You capture the business person with the report and then kindly, gently, speaking their language, move them to this other place where they see the other benefits that are there.”

Through the assistance of Maine ’s Attorney General increased dialogue has occurred between the child care community and the juvenile justice community. While no formal links to the economic development community, other than Coastal Enterprises Inc., have been formed, economic development directors at both the state and local level have taken a new interest in the child care industry. Judy Reidt-Parker says that the process of doing the study altered her view of the child care industry and her role as an advocate. In addition a relationship with the Maine Coalition for Excellence in Education, a group of businesses and public school educators, has been established with Judy Reidt-Parker and Patti Wooley being considered for membership to represent the early learning community.


The report made a number of policy recommendations. Each of these recommendations were followed with two examples of nationwide best practices in that type of policy. These recommendations included:

  • Integration of child care into economic development planning.
  • The reduction of land use and zoning barriers.
  • Increased leveraging of state and federal funding.
  • An examination of new tax policies to encourage private sector investment in child care support programs.
  • Development of a child care facilities fund to assist in the preservation and expansion of existing facilities.

Since the study was released, the state of Maine has begun to consolidate its Department of Human Services with the Bureau of Developmental Services. Due to this reorganization, little has happened in the way of new policy development and implementation.

Interview with:
Judy Reidt-Parker, Director of Child and Family Services
Peoples Regional Opportunity Program
June 9, 2004