WATERVILLE — An early childhood learning center recently opened a new classroom using a $4 million grant that will also help add capacity and build partnerships in childcare centers and family childcare homes across central Maine.

The new classroom space at Educare Central Maine is just one way the Waterville-based agency is spending the federal grant awarded in March through the Administration for Children and Families, said Executive Director Tracye Fortin.

“This is really helping to promote small business,” Fortin said. “What’s great about these funds is it really does extend what larger centers receive through federal funding and looks at how we can take those dollars and get them out into the communities.”

The $3,956,000 grant will be distributed over five years and will allow Educare to expand services and development opportunities, the group said in a news release.

A new classroom opened at the Waterville facility this month will allow for eight additional children to enroll in the Early Head Start program Educare runs with the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program.

Fortin said the classroom is already filled and has a waiting list.

In total, she said the grant will add capacity for 40 new early childcare openings across the Waterville, Augusta and Skowhegan areas including at family-run daycare and childcare centers.

The classroom that opened in Waterville this month is part of a year-round program that serves infants and toddlers of low-income families and also provides support services for both the children and their parents.

In addition, Fortin said the grant will help make funding, professional development and support services available to privately run childcare facilities in central Maine that might not otherwise have access to the resources of a larger center like Educare.

“These dollars give us the opportunity to extend to even more rural areas in Maine, to family childcare settings in those more rural communities where families need access and there are no services,” she said.


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