In this March 2020 file photo, Katie Worster does school with her daughters Elise (left) and Quinn (right) at their home in Hampden. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN

The Mills administration will allocate $25 million to Maine public schools to help families of children who are required to stay at home and attend classes remotely during the pandemic while their parents work.

In a statement released online by the Maine Department of Education on Friday, Gov. Janet Mills said she opted to allot some of the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief funding the state received to help parents cope with schools that are forced to launch programs that mix school attendance and home study as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The CARES Act is a $2 trillion relief package that Congress passed in March to help states recover from the economic devastation of stay-at-home orders and other coronavirus-inspired restrictions.

“As the parent of five now grown daughters, I can only imagine how difficult the pandemic has been for working parents trying to balance the demands of their job with their children learning from home or finding child care for when [the children] otherwise would have been at school,” Mills said in a statement. “Funding these programs is critical to ensure [that] working parents, especially those on the frontlines of our state’s pandemic response, stay in the workforce while being confident [that] their children are cared for.”

Schools that opt to work with community partners to establish day programming for students’ home-study days can start to apply for funding, which will cover the initial costs of materials and supplies, facilities expansions and staffing, on Sept. 4. The $25 million allocation follows a recommendation from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee, which highlighted the increased need for child care as an important part of Maine’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

The DOE announcement followed a Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) decision to invest $1 million in vaccinations and dental care for children covered by MaineCare.