Applications due Feb. 5 for entrepreneurs Interested in launching new child care businesses in the rim counties or Lewiston

BRUNSWICK — Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) is offering three concurrent virtual courses of its Child Care Business Lab, helping entrepreneurs start new, quality child care businesses in underserved areas of Maine. Applications are due on Feb. 5 at 5 p.m. Interested individuals should email for more information. The program begins in March.

“Recognizing the significant unmet need for child care in Maine and, at the same time, the impact that child care has on a family’s ability to thrive, CEI developed a training program to help people, who might not have opened a business on their own, offer child care services,” said Cynthia Murphy, senior program director, Workforce Solutions, CEI. “Based on the momentum of last year’s pilot, we are taking the Child Care Business Lab to the next level in 2021, expanding to three training cohorts and targeting areas of the state that will benefit the most.”

The Child Care Business Lab is an intensive cohort-based program that gives entrepreneurs the tools to start a successful small business, helps them refine their child care/early childhood education philosophy and guides them through the licensing process. Designed as an experiential leadership opportunity, the Child Care Business Lab will provide participants with a blueprint for a high-quality, financially viable nonprofit, for-profit, co-op or shared model child care business.

The six-month program consists of ten 2½ hour workshops conducted live via Zoom, 25 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.

Two of the 2021 cohorts will focus on child care businesses in Maine’s rim counties (Washington, Aroostook, Piscataquis, Penobscot, Somerset, Franklin, and Oxford), while a third cohort will focus on child care businesses for families that have recently immigrated to Maine in the Tree Streets Neighborhood in downtown Lewiston, which faces unique challenges around child care including securing appropriate facilities. The Rim Counties cohorts are made possible with funding from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation. The Lewiston cohort was made possible with funding from the John T. Gorman Foundation and aims to expand the number of slots for child care in the Tree Streets Neighborhood by 50 in 2021.

Building on a successful pilot

CEI designed the Child Care Business Lab, a five-year initiative to grow new child care enterprises in underserved areas of Maine, with help from Maine Roads to Quality, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child and Family Services Children’s Licensing and Investigation Services, and the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children, in response to data showing that increasing access to quality child care enables more parents to work full time and support their families. Individuals interested in starting a child care enterprise frequently have a passion for early childhood education and development but lack the experience to start and run a financially viable small business or nonprofit.

The Child Care Business Lab launched in 2020 with a pilot cohort of eight individuals primarily from Maine’s rural Rim Counties. Participants were motivated by a variety of factors, from wanting to create a good job in a field they were passionate about, challenges they experienced in finding appropriate childcare for their children or grandchildren, to a lack of culturally attuned offerings for immigrant or families of color in Maine’s increasingly diverse communities.

For families and single parents who want or need to work, having access to affordable, high-quality child care is essential to working full time. Across Maine, only 26.5 percent of children up to 14 years-old (55,000 children) are in paid child care,[1] indicating that many parents are shuttling children between family and friends and/or working part-time jobs.

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) helps to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises, and shared prosperity in Maine and in rural regions across the country by integrating financing, business and industry expertise, and policy solutions. For more information, visit