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Our lead ally in Maine, the Maine Children’s Alliance (MCA), advocates for sound public policies and best practices that improve the lives of all Maine children, youth, and families. They collaborate with partners and provide policymakers with comprehensive data and information about the status and well-being of Maine’s children.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 34% (39,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (2021). This number represents a decrease from 42% (51,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

Maine Governor Janet Mills signed the state’s current services budget for fiscal 2024-2025 into law on March 31 to ensure continued operations of state government, providing for $9.8 billion in general fund spending. She called the legislature back into session to consider further budget investments, and subsequently, the governor signed an additional $445 million budget on July 11. With these amendments, the biennial budget totals $10.3 billion in general fund appropriations. According to a legislative staff summary, the biennial budget, after
amendments, provides for general fund appropriations of $5.08 billion in fiscal 2024 and $5.26 billion in fiscal 2025, representing annual increases of 14.1 percent and 3.6 percent respectively.3

Largest Per Capita Revenue Sources (after federal transfers) (FY 2021):4

    • Property Taxes: $2,863 per capita
    • Individual Income Taxes: $1,522 per capita

Political Alignment: Aligned Democrat

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Democrat controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Democrat.5

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:6  Five

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Indirect Voter-Initiated State Statutes – While a direct initiative is placed on the ballot once supporters file the required number of valid signatures, an indirect initiative is first presented to the state legislature. Legislators have a certain number of days, depending on the state, to adopt the initiative into law. Should legislators take no action or reject the initiative, the initiative is put on the ballot for voters to decide.
    • Veto Referenda – When citizens of Maine disagree with a statute or legislative bill enacted by the state legislature, they can collect signatures to force the issue to a vote. If enough signatures are collected, the bill is placed on the statewide ballot.
    • Bonding Propositions – A finance proposition placed on the ballot by the state legislature.
    • Legislature-Initiated State Statutes – A ballot measure that appears because the state legislature voted to put it before the voters.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Council for a Strong America Early Childhood

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:7

2023 Policy Progress:

In 2023, the Maine legislature passed critical investments in the child care system, establishment of a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave System, and expansion of a dependent tax credit to support the economic security of families. These wins represent a transformational investment in policies that support Maine children, youth, and families, and include many of advocates’ policy priorities. Ensuring families have what they need to support the well-being of children, while participating fully in the workforce, will produce better outcomes for everyone in Maine. 

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:8

New Child Care investments (LD 1726) will help more families pay for quality care with an expansion of the subsidy program and also support the critical early education workforce by doubling the wage stipend.

With start-up funding in the budget, Maine will join 13 other states in having a Paid Family and Medical Leave program (LD 1964). Among other benefits, paid leave supports families taking time to care for their loved ones, including at the critical time of bonding with a new child.

Expansion of the state dependent tax credit (LD 1544) to reach those with the lowest incomes. The child tax credit has proven to be an effective tool for reducing child poverty. 

Advocates in Maine continue to track legislation that can make a difference in the lives of young children and their families. (More information can be found in Maine Children’s Alliance’s Bill Tracker.)


Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy

The Alliance’s lead grantee in Maine, Maine Children’s Alliance, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

Child and
Maternal Health

Early Intervention (Age 0-3)


Family Economic Security

Child Welfare

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Early Childhood Governance

Click here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda.



1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, July 2023

5 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

6 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

7 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

8 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:


More State Demographic Data: