LD 1760
Session - 129th Maine Legislature
LR 1533
Item 1
Bill Tracking, Additional Documents Chamber Status

An Act To Support Children's Healthy Development and School Readiness

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 22 MRSA c. 1065  is enacted to read:



§ 3931 First 4 ME Early Care and Education Program

1 Program established.   The First 4 ME Early Care and Education Program is established under the department to provide funding to achieve efficiencies, create opportunities and improve social, emotional, educational and health outcomes for children under 6 years of age and the children's families through the provision of comprehensive, high-quality early child care and education by funding a holistic service approach that integrates the Head Start program's comprehensive resources and services into traditional center-based and family child care settings that improve the outcomes for children, families and early childhood educators.
2 Definitions.   As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
A "At-risk" means, with regard to a person, that the person who is a member of an economically disadvantaged family, a recipient or former recipient of services under the child protection or child welfare system of the State, in foster care, homeless, a member of a family exposed to substance use disorder, identified as having special needs or identified as having a physical or mental disability or limited in English proficiency.
B "Child" means a person under 6 years of age who has not entered kindergarten.
C "Child care center" has the same meaning as in section 8301-A, subsection 1-A, paragraph A.
D "Community" means a geographical area represented by a community coalition and served or to be served by a project.
E "Community coach" means an employee of or contractor with a community contractor who is trained under subsection 11 and performs administrative functions in carrying out the duties of a project.
F "Community coalition" means a group of stakeholders, service providers or other members within a community under subsection 7 that sponsors and collaborates in the implementation and administration of a project.
G "Community contractor" means a nonprofit organization that is the applicant and responsible lead member of a community coalition for a project.
H "Community provider" means a child care center, family child care provider or other service provider that has entered into a contract with a community contractor to provide services as part of a project.
I "Comprehensive, high-quality early child care and education" means supportive, intergenerational, age-appropriate research-based interaction and teaching practices provided by a licensed entity under section 8301-A that focus on all domains of learning, and includes embedded professional development, family engagement in a child's learning and progress toward family goals, using data to inform teaching practices and a holistic approach to a child's physical, mental and dental health.
J "Economically disadvantaged" means having a family income not exceeding 185% of the federal poverty level.
K "Embedded professional development" means an activity performed by a community coach to encourage rule-specific knowledge, skills and dispositions to support responsive caregiving and developmentally appropriate teaching practices implemented for learning that is integrated into the work day, consists of assessing and finding solutions for authentic and immediate problems of practice as part of a cycle of continuous improvement and is grounded in day-to-day teaching practice designed to enhance a teacher's or caregiver's practices with the intent of improving children's social, emotional and cognitive development.
L "Family" means a child under 6 years of age, the child's parent and all people living in the household of the child who are supported by the income of the child's parent and related to the child or child's parent by blood, marriage or adoption.
M "Family child care provider" has the same meaning as in section 8301-A, subsection 1-A, paragraph C.
N "Homeless" has the same meaning as in the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, 42 United States Code, Section 11302.
O "Home visitor" means a person who provides services to a participant in the participant's home.
P "Parent" means the parent or parents of a child under 6 years of age or the child's legal guardian, primary or authorized caregiver or foster parent or a person with whom the child has been placed for purposes of adoption pending a final adoption decree.
Q "Participant" means an eligible child or family of an eligible child under subsection 5 who has been accepted to participate in a project.
R "Program" means the First 4 ME Early Care and Education Program established under subsection 1.
S "Project" means the program as implemented in a community by a community contractor.
T "Working full time" means spending at least 30 hours per week performing one or a combination of the following activities: working, receiving education in a classroom or other learning setting, studying pursuant to a course of education or volunteering for a nonprofit organization. For purposes of this paragraph, one hour of studying equals 2 hours of another activity.
3 Application requirements.   An application for a project must include:
A Sponsorship by a community coalition under subsection 7;
B A provision for enrollment of an eligible person under subsection 5 who resides within the community of the community coalition under paragraph A;
C An assessment evaluating data on and the demographics of the community of the community coalition under paragraph A to determine the needs of the population of possible participants in the community regarding care, health care and education, the resources available in the community to address those needs and the ability of the project to address those needs using the project components under subsection 4;
D An action plan based upon the assessment in paragraph C that states objectives, goals and intended outcomes and responds to the needs of the community using the available resources and incorporating the project components under subsection 4; and
E A proposed 3-year budget to implement the action plan under paragraph D and operate the project.
4 Project components.   Project components must include the following:
A Service delivery in a nurturing, responsive, interactive and engaging environment, including:

(1) At a child care center or family child care provider, for at least 48 weeks per year, 5 days per week excluding state holidays, 10 hours per day and with up to 10 days of staff training. A child care center or family child care provider shall provide a well-organized and managed learning environment, social and emotional support for children, intentional teaching practices and materials designed to stimulate a child's thinking, development and skills. Curricula must be developmentally appropriate, be research-based and implement best practices, including curriculum enhancements that have been adopted to meet the needs of specific populations and provide content-rich learning experiences to support the children's growth in key areas of development, including approaches to learning, language, literacy, cognitive development and physical development, and are based upon developmental progressions and how children learn; or

(2) Through home visiting services, for at least 48 weeks per year, once a week, 90 minutes per visit and with 2 group socialization activities per month that include children and the children's parents. Home visitation services must include interactions between the home visitor and a parent that are nurturing, responsive and intentional and that support the parent in the parent's role as the primary and most important teacher of the parent's child and assist the parent in using the parent's home and the community as the child's learning environment. Curricula must focus on the parent-child relationship and be culturally and linguistically responsive.

A participant may receive service delivery under subparagraph (1) or (2) or both;

B Screening and ongoing child assessments conducted in a manner that is responsive to a child's home language and culture. Screening must include an initial assessment of developmental, behavioral, motor, language, cognitive and social and emotional skills to identify a delay in development in a child's skills or identify a disability that may require further evaluation. Ongoing assessment must monitor a child's development and progress toward individual goals with input from the child's family to determine a child's strengths and needs and possible adjustment of child care center and family child care provider teaching practices and home visit strategies and to support a referral to the Child Development Services System under Title 20-A, section 7209 when necessary;
C Specialized support for participants, including for cultural and linguistic needs and for children with diagnosed or who have physical or mental disabilities or developmental delays. Support may include access to and participation in learning and social experiences and activities;
D Parent and family engagement practiced at all levels of the project, focusing on culturally and linguistically responsive relationship-building within the family, including:

(1) Communicating effectively with members of a family;

(2) Forming positive goal-focused relationships with members of a family;

(3) Involving a parent in decision making, teaching practices, including screening, assessment, planning for interactions and learning environments and implementing curricula;

(4) Ensuring consistency between a child's home and comprehensive, high-quality early child care and education; and

(5) Ensuring project practices are responsive to a family's needs;

E Support for a child's immunization and preventive health and dental care by providing encouragement for a parent to comply with the department's early periodic screening, diagnosis and treatment program under section 3173;
F Transportation options to assist a family to travel to or from health care, child care or education services; and
G A requirement that a participant attend or receive at least 85% of project activities and services designed for that participant.
5 Participant eligibility.   A participant in a project must:
A Be a child who is at-risk and:

(1) Who is receiving care in a facility licensed under section 8301-A; or

(2) Whose parent requests home visits;

B Reside in the community of the project; and
C Be the child of a person who is:

(1) Involved or have been involved as a subject, victim or witness within the judicial system; or

(2) A refugee.

A project must ensure that at-risk children, including children with a diagnosed or suspected mental or physical disability, and the children's families within the community are provided an opportunity to participate in the project. Except as provided under subsection 6, a child who is accepted for the project remains eligible until the child attains 6 years of age or enters kindergarten. A parent's participation in any project activity is voluntary, including consent for data sharing under subsection 12, and is not required as a condition for a child's eligibility under this subsection.

6 Suspension; expulsion.   If a child's behavior threatens the health or safety of a participant, project staff member or other person, a project must follow the Head Start program's suspension and expulsion procedures under 45 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1302.17.
7 Community coalition; membership.   A community coalition shall assist and support a community contractor in sponsoring, developing and submitting a project application under subsection 3, including a community assessment and supporting comprehensive, high-quality early child care and education in the community. Membership of a community coalition must include at least one:
A Community contractor;
B Leader or prominent person who resides in the community;
C Child care center;
D Family child care provider;
E Health care provider;
F Mental health care provider;
G Home visitor;
H Representative of a public school located within the community;
I Parent;
J Representative of an organization that supports workforce development;
K Provider of services under Part B or Part C of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; and
L A provider of professional development to early child care and education professionals.

A member of a community coalition must be located or operate within the community represented by the community coalition. A community coalition may include a local government staff member or agency that provides services to or local judicial staff who have engaged with an at-risk population.

8 Community contractor.   A community contractor must be a nonprofit organization with experience in providing Head Start comprehensive, high-quality early child care and education program services that has adopted a multigenerational approach to service delivery. A community contractor shall have adequate infrastructure and qualified and credentialed staff to carry out the duties under this subsection. Duties of a community contractor include:
A Representing and being the responsible member for the community coalition;
B Submitting an application under subsection 3;
C Being the lead member and coordinator of a community coalition and the coalition's activities;
D Contracting for and ensuring implementation of high-quality services with community providers;
E Employing or contracting for community coaches;
F Providing community providers with training and technical assistance;
G Implementing and maintaining a data system to collect and report aggregate data regarding child, family and provider information, activities and outcomes; and
H Participating in a collective, Internet-based system that captures data from all project locations in a manner that protects the confidentiality of information of participants.
9 Community contractor staff requirements.   Community contractor staff requirements include:
A For education services supporting a child care center or family child care provider, a bachelor's degree or advanced degree in early childhood education or a related field with equivalent course work and experience in early childhood development and training as a community coach;
B For health-related services supporting a child care center or family child care provider, training and experience in public health, nursing, health education, maternal and child health or health administration and:

(1) If the staff member performs a health care procedure or provides health care services, licensure or certification authorizing the member to perform the procedure or provide the service;

(2) If the staff member provides nutrition services, licensure, registration or certification as a dietitian or nutritionist; and

(3) If the staff member provides mental health services, licensure or certification as a mental health professional and experience in serving young children and families;

C For family and community partnership services, training and experience in a field related to social, human or family services;
D For parent involvement services, training, experience and skills in assisting parents of young children in decision making and advocacy;
E For disability services, a bachelor's degree and training and experience in securing and individualizing services for children with physical and mental disabilities; and
F For home visitors, a bachelor's degree in human services or a related field and experience in home visitation and knowledge of infant and child development.

A staff member, including a community coach under subsection 11, may be an employee of the community contractor or another person who contracts with the community contractor to provide services under this subsection.

10 Community provider.   A community provider must:
A Enter into a contract with a community contractor to provide services to a project;
B Be in good standing with the department's division of licensing and certification;
C Agree to meet the highest level of requirements for the department's quality rating system established pursuant to section 3737, subsection 3; and
D Agree to provide the community contractor with data on a participant or provider consented to under subsection 12 as requested by the contractor.
11 Community coach.   The community contractor shall employ or contract with a community coach to provide information and training to a community provider required by the community contractor. A community coach must receive training from a research-based early childhood program with experience in implementing a high-quality early childhood program by intentionally and comprehensively combining data utilization, embedded professional development, high-quality teaching practices and family engagement.
12 Consent to data.   A community provider or community contractor may not use personally identifying data derived from services provided to a participant without the participant's or, if the participant is a minor, the participant's parent's consent.
13 Funding.   The department shall prioritize funding to a project that serves a community with high numbers or a high percentage of children living in poverty or that effectively involves a wide variety of providers or other entities in the community including school administrative units.
14 Rules.   The department shall adopt rules to carry out the purposes of this chapter. Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection are routine technical rules as defined by Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.

Sec. 2. Pilot projects. The Department of Health and Human Services shall request proposals for a pilot project to commence June 1, 2020 to carry out the purposes of the First 4 ME Early Care and Education Program established in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 22, chapter 1065. The department shall select up to 10 pilot projects from proposals submitted under this section. On October 2, 2023, a pilot project selected under this section shall report to the department on the progress toward objectives, goals and outcomes of the project detailed in the project's proposal. On or before February 1, 2024, the department shall report to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over health and human services matters regarding the project reports received under this section along with any recommended legislation. The committee may report out legislation based upon the department's report to the Second Regular Session of the 131st Legislature.


This bill creates the First 4 ME Early Care and Education Program under the Department of Health and Human Services to provide comprehensive, high-quality early child care and education services for at-risk children under 6 years of age who have not entered kindergarten and the children's parents by funding projects that integrate comprehensive resources and services with traditional center-based and family child care settings. The projects are sponsored by coalitions of stakeholders, providers and other community members within the communities that the projects serve. Each project is led and coordinated by a community contractor who staffs the project's operations and contracts with community providers to provide health care, education or parenting services, which may include services provided in a licensed child care center or by a licensed family child care provider, in a home visit or by an individual providing services to a family member within the individual's or family member's residence. The community contractor employs or contracts with community coaches who train and provide support to community providers. This bill also directs the department to request proposals for up to 10 pilot projects to implement the program and to report to the Legislature on the progress of the pilot projects toward the objectives, goals and intended outcomes of the projects in 2024.

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