Choosing Child Care
Maine has different child care options to meet the various needs of families. Learn more about them here!
These programs operate in a facility designated for the care of children. Children are often grouped according to age in child care centers. In Maine, facilities providing care for more than 3 children must be licensed; staffing requirements vary based on the total number and ages of children in the program.
These programs operate within a private home and often serve multiple age groups. In Maine, if an individual is providing child care for more than two children who are unrelated to them, that person(s) must be licensed by Maine’s Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services. The maximum number of children allowed in a family child care home in Maine is 12; depending on the number and ages of children, additional staff may be required.
These programs offer programming for children for no more than 3 ½ hours per day. Some nursery schools offer both a morning and afternoon session, but children may only attend one session per day. Nursery schools typically serve preschool-aged children, though some offer programming for toddlers.
License Exempt Care
This type of care is also known as “family, friend, and neighbor care.” Individuals can offer care for up to two children unrelated to them without becoming licensed.
Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to five from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Head Start serves preschool-age children and their families. Many Head Start programs also provide Early Head Start, which serves infants, toddlers, pregnant women and their families who have incomes below the federal poverty level. Head Start programs offer a variety of service models, depending on the needs of the local community.
These programs serve children during out-of-school time hours, including before school, after school, and during summer and school vacations in community-based settings (e.g. in a school or YMCA). Recreation programs are not required to be licensed, but the programs must maintain appropriate staff-to-child ratios and all staff must pass background checks as required by the state.
This type of care is provided in the child or children’s own home. These caregivers are commonly called “nannies” or “au pairs.”
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