Parents, policy experts, Maine state legislators and advocates for children and the elderly gathered at Roots and Fruits Preschool in South Portland on Monday to unveil the details of a new campaign to create a universal family care system in Maine, including guaranteed child care services for families with young children and universal access to home care services for seniors and Mainers with disabilities.
The system would be designed to enable families with children under four years old to enroll, free of charge, in home-based or center-based child care programs through a voucher system. All families in Maine would also be able to access home care services for seniors and people with disabilities. The system would be funded by a payroll tax on annual income over $118,000.
“Before my son entered kindergarten he was on a waiting list for Head Start for 23 months. For six months I had to bring my son into work with me during my shift so that I wouldn’t lose my job. It took me another six months to find a sitter I trusted and could rely on,” said Tabatha Whalen, a mother of three living in Portland. “It was such a relief to get help, but it made me feel like I was failing as a parent. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I have so many friends and coworkers that face similar child care problems with few, if any, affordable options.”