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Updated: January 24, 2022

CEI seeks applications for Child Care Business Lab

woman reading a book to little ones in a child care center File photo / Courtesy, Mano En Mano Juana Rodriguez-Vazquez, interim executive director of the nonprofit Mano en Mano in Milbridge, is a graduate of the CEI Child Care Business Lab.

Two years after launching a business development program for aspiring child care entrepreneurs in rural Maine, Coastal Enterprises Inc. is seeking applications for the next group starting this March.

CEI’s Child Care Business Lab, launched in March 2020, has led to the founding of 11 new businesses with 144 child care slots. Several more businesses are in the final stages of licensing to provide another 100 child care slots in the next six months, according to the Brunswick-based organization. 

“People across Maine are expressing an interest in starting a child care business and a passion for early child development,” said Cynthia Murphy, CEI's senior program director of workforce solutions.

“But they need help with business planning and implementation, including how to set fees, hire staff and find the money to get started. They’re also asking to be coached through the licensing process.”

The Child Care Business Lab is an intensive cohort-based program that provides entrepreneurs with the tools needed to get a small business off the ground.

As part of the program, instructors help participants refine their child care philosophy and guide them through the licensing process.

Designed as an experiential leadership opportunity, the Child Care Business Lab offers a blueprint for a financially viable nonprofit, for-profit, co-op or shared-model child care business.

The six-month program consists of 10 two-hour workshops conducted live on Zoom, three in-person sessions (pending COVID-safe circumstances), six hours of on-demand online learning sessions, bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with a business advisor and personalized coaching sessions with a child care mentor.

During the six months, participants will complete all of the requirements to be licensed.

The program, offered free to all participants, receives funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation and the John T. Gorman Foundation. The program aims to address the shortage of child care providers in rural Maine.

Applicants are currently being sought from people living in Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset and Washington counties, and are due by Feb. 18.

For those who are interested, application forms and more information are available here

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