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State funding and new building in Gardiner combat child care shortage

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 5:16 PM EDT
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GARDINER, Maine (WABI) - Many parents have faced challenges finding child care during the pandemic.

In Gardiner, construction of a new facility for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kennebec Valley coupled with increased funding may help ease that problem.

“I’m an essential worker, and knowing my kids are taken care of and getting good care has been huge.”

Blythe Edwards has two kids who come to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kennebec Valley (BGCKV).

“Child care right now is so hard. I have a friend of mine who’s been on the waitlist for a year a half here.”

“Parents are calling here constantly.” says BGCKV CEO Ingrid Stanchfield. “I would bet that we would have over 100 on the waiting list if every parent that called had brought in the registration form, but they just move from us to someone else to try and see if there is a space available.”

In July, Governor Mills signed into law a bill that aims to support children’s development and school success, in part by providing more funding for child care, which is in short supply.

“Hopefully the new building will help ease some of that for our region.” says Stanchfield.

The new facility currently under construction will allow for an estimated 60% increase in spaces for children and teens, and Stanchfield says funding from the bill will help with programming.

”What we’re hoping is going to happen with that is to create more community partnerships so that when we open our new building, we’ll have more services available for children.”

Namely a new and expanded daytime preschool program which would provide a much needed option for many families.

”I am grateful to the club.” says Edwards. “Both of my children have attended here since twelve weeks of age. Then they transitioned from the daycare full time into the after school programming and it’s been incredibly helpful.”

The capital campaign for the new building is still underway.

Stanchfield says the goal is to finish construction debt-free.

“So that parents that are already struggling to take care of their own households don’t have to face increased child care fees. If anyone sees this today and has compassion for what’s going on for families needing childcare and quality after school programming, we would appreciate any gift. Doesn’t matter what size, it’s very helpful.”

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