Penquis closing infant-toddler classrooms in Bangor, Old Town

Posted Sept. 13, 2011, at 8:22 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The parents of 26 infants and toddlers served by area Penquis Child Development programs are scrambling to find new day care.

Parents were notified last week that because of reductions in government funding, four of the 12 classrooms in the region for children up to age 2½ will close effective Oct. 7, according to Jean Bridges, Penquis Child Development director. Penquis provides day care for 700 children in three counties.

One of the classrooms is located in Old Town, Penquis spokeswoman Renae Muscatell said Tuesday. The other three are in Bangor: on Davis Road, at Eastern Maine Community College, and at the Penobscot Job Corps Academy.

The classroom closures will affect 12 full-time employees whose positions were eliminated, Muscatell said. Half of the staffers were reassigned and the other six were laid off.

“We implemented a hiring freeze in order to make positions available to those impacted by the classroom closings,” she said.

“I do appreciate the hardship this will place on the families, children and staff impacted by this decision,” Bridges said.

“It was a difficult decision that was made to cope with the unfortunate circumstances of funding challenges,” she said. “Maine’s child care funding has weathered numerous challenges over the past several years.”

Those challenges include increased costs, reduced or flat funding and a cut in state reimbursement levels for child care providers participating in the Maine Child Care Quality Rating System.

Besides providing a one-month notice, Penquis is helping affected parents by making available a list of providers in the area that offer infant or toddler care. Penquis Resource Development Center staff members are available for assistance in identifying additional options.

For information call Penquis at 973-3533, toll free at 888-917-1100, email aludwig@penquis.org or visit www.penquis.org.

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