The front entrance of the new Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Early Education Center on Wednesday, Dec.14, at 274 Front. St. The building is on track to be open in early summer. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — University of Maine, Farmington’s new Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Early Education Center is currently on track to be open by early summer in 2023. The new center, which is double the square footage of the current building, will have 20 new slots for high-quality infant and toddler care.

“I am looking forward to more room,” Julie Farmer, director of the Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Education Center. “We have outgrown our current space, so it will be nice to have a building that offers almost twice the square footage than we are in now.”

The new location, 274 Front St. in Farmington, was purchased back in Jan. 2019 by the University of Maine board of trustees. Two Portland-based companies, CHA Consulting, Inc., and Optimum Construction Inc., are providing the design and construction for the center. CHA Consulting, Inc was hired to draw up plans for the new building in Dec. 2019.

Approval of the project came from the board of trustees in February. $3.1 million dollars was authorized by System Trustees, with $1 million from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, $600,000 in Congressionally Directed Spending and $100,000 from The Lennox Foundation contributed specifically for the outdoor nature-based areas.

“We are thankful for the support from Governor Mills, Senators Collins and King, the Maine Legislature, and the University of Maine System Board of Trustees,” Joseph McDonnell, UMF interim president, said in a press release. “We look forward to meeting the needs of the people of Maine and are grateful for their continued support.

“The Sweatt-Winter program has served families in Franklin County and the surrounding area for more than 30 years. Our new facility will expand on both that legacy and Farmington’s continuing commitment to provide childcare for working parents and to educate Maine’s future generation of early childhood educators,” he said


The building will include observation areas, which will be strategically placed in each room to help pre-service teachers observe and understand children’s play, behavior and learning styles and observe high-quality developmentally appropriate teaching practices, as well as undergraduate/graduate student classrooms, a nursing room for mothers, art and multi-purpose areas, office space and a kitchen/laundry area.

“We are looking forward to having more storage space, a break room and separate office for the teachers, and a fully functioning kitchen,” Farmer commented.

There will also be nature-based playgrounds specifically designed to meet the developmental needs of each age group served by the center.

“The addition of an infant/toddler program will fill a huge need for the community,” Farmer added. “It will also offer the university students in-field experience with this age group. Having an undergraduate classroom housed within the building will allow pre-service teachers access to real-time scenarios, which will enhance their class time experience. There is nothing better than discussing child development as it unfolds in front of you.”

“The new Sweatt-Winter facility will be a model for quality childcare and early education in Maine,” said Katherine Yardley, associate provost and dean of the College of Education, Health, and Rehabilitation, in a press release.

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