BANGOR, Maine — Penquis Child Development recently announced it will be closing four infant toddler classrooms in the greater Bangor area effective Oct. 7, 2011.
â€śI do appreciate the hardship this will place on the families, children and staff impacted by this decision,â€ť said Jean Bridges, Child Development Director, Penquis. â€śIt was a difficult decision that was made to cope with the unfortunate circumstances of funding challenges. Maineâ€™s child care funding has weathered numerous challenges over the past several years.â€ť
In addition to increased costs and reduced or flat funding, State of Maine Child Care Administrators notified child care programs of a reduction in the reimbursement level of the Maine Child Care Quality Rating System from a 25 % Quality Bump down to a 10% Quality Bump.
The Maine Child Care Quality Rating System was established to support programs with higher reimbursement based on the status of their quality rating. This quality funding helps to cover the cost of increased mandates that are part of being a designated program of quality. Penquisâ€™ centers are established Quality Level Step 4 programs, the highest quality level available in Maine.
Participating in the Quality Rating System demonstrates high standards in several areas of the Child Care program, including the learning environment, compliance history and licensing status. It requires continued professional development for all teachers and staff, development assessments for children in a variety of areas, provides support in connecting families to community resources, and facilitates family and parent involvement.
In early spring, after the Child Care Market Rate was published, Penquis prepared an operating budget based on that rate and a 25% increase in reimbursement for the quality bump.
â€śThe Quality Bump was one of the contributing factors, the tipping factor, actually, since we as child care providers have experienced either reductions or flat funded child care budgets, or have encountered policy changes that have influenced and constrained our available child care funding for over five years now,â€ť said Bridges. â€śOur budgets have been increasingly challenged during that timeframe making us vulnerable to the next change in support.â€ť
â€śOnce the amount of revenue from the State was identified, Penquis assessed its operations and made the necessary decisions to assure that it could continue to provide child care services within the revenue available,â€ť commented Brian Thibeau, Chief Administrative Officer and Interim Chief Financial Officer, Penquis. â€śUnfortunately, in order to reduce expenses to meet the level of available revenue, it became necessary to eliminate the four infant toddler classrooms as those are the most expensive to operate,â€ť said Thibeau. â€śIt is important to note that Penquis will continue to offer infant toddler care in its eight remaining classrooms in the Bangor area,â€ť he concluded.
To assist families in identifying replacement services Penquis provided a one month notice as well as a list of providers in the area that offer infant and/or toddler care. Penquis Resource Development Center (RDC) staff members are available to provide further assistance in identifying area child care options. Penquis RDC also provides an on-line referrals search and child care subsidies application forms. For more information call 973-3533, Toll Free: 1-888-917-1100, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.penquis.org.
Contact Name: Jean Bridges
Telephone Number: (207)973-3500