Preschool classrooms closing

Posted Oct. 04, 2011, at 3:24 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 04, 2011, at 5:07 p.m.

BANGOR — Penquis Child Development has announced that it will close four infant toddler classrooms in the Bangor area effective Friday, Oct. 7.

“I do appreciate the hardship this will place on the families, children and staff impacted by this decision,” said Jean Bridges, child development director for Penquis. “It was a difficult decision that was made to cope with the unfortunate circumstances of funding challenges. Maine’s child care funding has weathered numerous challenges over the past several years.”

In addition to increased costs and reduced or flat funding, State of Maine Child Care administrators notified child care programs of a reduction in the reimbursement level of the Maine Child Care Quality Rating System from a 25 percent Quality Bump down to a 10 percent Quality Bump.

Penquis’ centers are established Quality Level Step 4 programs, the highest level available in Maine. Participating in the Quality Rating System demonstrates high standards in several areas of the Child Care program.

In early spring, after the Child Care Market Rate was published, Penquis prepared an operating budget based on that rate and a 25 percent increase in reimbursement for the quality bump.

“The Quality Bump was one of the contributing factors, the tipping factor, actually, since we as child care providers have experienced either reductions or flat-funded child care budgets, or have encountered policy changes that have influenced and constrained our available child care funding for over five years now,” said Bridges. “Our budgets have been increasingly challenged during that time frame, making us vulnerable to the next change in support.”

Brian Thibeau, chief administrative officer and interim chief financial officer for Penquis, said, “Unfortunately, in order to reduce expenses to meet the level of available revenue, it became necessary to eliminate the four infant toddler classrooms as those are the most expensive to operate. It is important to note that Penquis will continue to offer infant toddler care in its eight remaining classrooms in the Bangor area.”

To assist families in identifying replacement services, Penquis provided a one-month notice and a list of providers in the area that offer infant and-or toddler care. Penquis Resource Development Center staff members are available to provide further assistance in identifying child care options. Penquis RDC also provides an online referrals search and child care subsidies application forms. For more information, call 973-3533 or 888-917-1100, email aludwig@penquis.org or visit http:// www.penquis.org.

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