Child Care Centers

A licensed child care center serve more than three children under the age of 13 and are not a place of residence. The average child care center in Maine cares for 35 children. Centers often have a more structured schedule and children are grouped according to age. Child Care Centers usually follow regular work hours and may be closed for holidays. Staff in a center must be at least 18 years of age and a Center Director must have experience and/or an educational background in Early Care and Education. Yearly minimum training requirements, including CPR and First Aid, must be maintained by staff of the center. Child Care Centers are licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Family Child Care Homes

A licensed family child care provider can care for up to 8-12 children, depending on the children’s ages and if there is additional help, in his or her home. The average family child care home in Maine cares for 11 children. Family Child Care Homes often have mixed age groups. Yearly minimum training requirements, including CPR and First Aid, must be maintained. If a person cares for only one or two children they are exempt from license requirements (see legal-unlicensed child care below). Family child care homes are licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Nursery Schools

Offer programming to children, ages 3-7, for no more than 3 1/2 hours per day, 2-5 days a week. The preschool programming often provides a structured curriculum to an average of 10 children in a group. Nursery schools are licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Legal-Unlicensed Child Care

Kith and Kin (family and friend) caregivers, are considered “legal-unlicensed” if they care for only one or two children in their home. Care for Me is a program of the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Early Childhood, which performs background checks on legal unlicensed providers and maintains a database that is available to parents to verify the background of their Kith and Kin provider. The Care for Me network also provides information to Kith and Kin caregivers on child care health and safety issues.

Head Start

Comprehensive early childhood development program for children, ages 3-5, whose family income is at or below the poverty level or who have a disability. Comprehensive services include education, health, nutrition, and social skills. Traditionally Head Start is a part-day, part-year program, operating for 3 1/2 hours to 6 hours per day for 32 weeks a year. Most Head Start programs throughout Maine now offer “wrap around services” which combines Head Start services with child care services to offer full-day, full-year programs to families. Through Home Start, Head Start programming is offered at family child care homes. Early Head Start is a family focused program for children ages 0-3 with the same eligibility requirements as Head Start. Maine offers Early Head Start services in centers and family child care homes, as well as through Home-based programming in which Head Start personnel come to the child’s home to meet with the family. Head Start programs are licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services.’

School Age Programs

Typically for children between the ages of 5-12 years. This type of care can be found in a public or private school setting, as well as in recreation centers, child care centers, or family child care homes. There is usually one director and a staff of teachers, all trained in school-age care and related activities. Group sizes are determined by state regulations, and programs are licensed. Some programs run on a school calendar, while others operate year round. School-age care can be provided before school begins, in the after-school hours, and possibly on school holidays and breaks. In some cases, transportation and meals are provided as well. Some school age programs are licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services; other school age programs are overseen by the municipal school or recreation office.

Summer Programs

Summer camps run in sessions, and can be full-day or part-day schedules. Summer camps usually serve children aged 5-15 years. Typically, there is a director and a trained staff of counselors and assistants. Some camps specialize in certain areas, such as the arts, sports, or science. In some areas of Maine, free summer camp opportunities are available. Your Resource Development Center can provide further information. Camps are licensed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Health, Division of Health Engineering.

Public School Pre-K Programs

Administered by local public school systems in many areas of Maine, and offer morning or afternoon programs, but not full day child care. More information can be obtained by contacting your local school administration, or going to the Department of Education website:

In-Home Care

Provided in a child’s home by a personally hired caregiver, usually a nanny or au pair, or in some cases a “mother’s helper”. This type of care is not regulated by the state. Your Resource Development Center does not offer referrals for this type of care.