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Noodle Staff
Noodle Expert Member

December 18, 2019

A 3-minute guide to preschool and child care in Maine. Learn about licensing laws, instructor training, and enrollment requirements — everything you need to know to choose the right program for your child.

Takeaway: Maine offers its residents a comprehensive database in which to search for child care. While center-based care is the only type of facility requiring personnel to have early childhood education experience, Maine also required those employed at home-based programs to have CPR and first-aid training, and to complete a Family Child Care course. Both types of programs require state licensure. Maine recently received a $14.8 million grant toward the implementation of universal pre-K.


Maine’s licensing standards are relatively easy to understand, and the state requires most center-based and home-based programs to be licensed. Maine has a fantastic preschool database search that allows users to filter results by quality, location, and program type. Results are displayed on a dual-list/interactive map and provide details regarding age requirements, licensing histories, and contact information.

The state has recently made a strong push for expanding its pre-K program as a result of poor student rankings in math, reading, and science. The state currently offers pre-K to 42 percent of eligible 4-year old,s thanks to a recent $14.8 million grant. That said, Maine is still working toward universal pre-K. Recent bills have proposed using casino revenue to fund the program further.

Center-Based Care

Maine defines any non-residential home that provides care to more than three children under the age of 13 as a child care facility. The average group size is 35 children, and programs are often structured and well-organized. Directors are required to have experience in education or a college degree in early education. All personnel are required to attend annual training and to have certifications in first aid and CPR. Center Directors should also have experience in early childhood education. All centers must observe suitable caregiver-to-child ratios. These are 1:4 for infants, 1:8 for toddlers, and 1:12 for children over 5 years of age.

Home-Based Care

Home-based programs, sometimes called family care programs, also have to be licensed. These programs tend, however, to be much smaller than their center-based counterparts. Providers may care for eight to 12 children, depending on the staffing of the program. If one provider is present, that person may care for up to four infants or toddlers ages 6 weeks to 30 months; three infants and toddlers plus three preschool children ages 2.5 to 5 years, plus two school-aged children ages 5 to 12 years; eight preschool children plus two school-aged children; or 12 school-aged children. Unlike child care centers, home-based facilities often have mixed-age groups, and programs tend to offer less structure. Personnel, however, must also attend annual training and receive certifications in first aid and CPR.

Unlicensed Care

Maine offers few exemptions for unlicensed programs. Any program that has a caregiver who is a friend or relative and that has fewer than two children is exempt. If children receive personal in-home care, then the caregiver also does not have to register.

Discover Maine preschools near you using the free Noodle preschool search, the most comprehensive tool of its kind.