Baby Steps: Surging Need for Child Care Sparks Maine Startup Boom


Renee Cordes








An in-depth look at the child care sector in Maine, which, as in the rest of the country, suffered financial and staffing challenges during the pandemic. Coastal Enterprise Inc's Child Care Business Lab, a business incubator launched in 2020, aims to help new child care businesses, especially in the under-served rural counties. Anna Wardwell is one graduate of the program. She is preparing to open her home- and farm-based child care business, Little Learners Homestead LLC, later this month. 70 new child care licenses have been issued in the state so far in 2021. Tabitha Bennett, who opened Little Bird Child Care in 2020 and Juana Rodriguez-Vazquez, who launched a bilingual program at Mano en Mano this year are other alums of the Business Lab. The article also briefly discusses the experiences of Sholeh Misaghian of Happy Garden Family Childcare, and looks briefly at some established childcare centers, The Children's Center in Portland and the Boys & Girls Club of Kennebec Valley, that are planning for expansion.

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