Maine Children’s Growth Council
Early Childhood Accountability Team Meeting Minutes
March 16, 2009
1-3 pm, Cross Building, Room 400
In Attendance: Allyson Dean, Terri Petnov, Carol Wynn, Rita Fullerton, Bill Hager, Lori Freid Moses,
Aymie Walsh, Carolyn Drugge, Bob Steinberg, Deb Rainey, Kristen Slefinger, Mary Jipson Perry, Karen
White. Attending by Phone: Deb Hannigan, Leslie Forstadt
Meeting began at 1 pm with introductions and a brief review of the agenda. Meeting then adjourned
until 2 pm so that members could attend the Governor’s Press Conference to announce the “Report of
the Governor’s Business Roundtable on Early Childhood Investment.”
Meeting resumed at 2:10 pm as members returned from the press conference and the agenda turned to
the discussion regarding the relationship between the Children’s Growth Council and its accountability
teams. Terri walked the group through the logic model presented as a mechanism for considering issues
from the field that impact the ECE system in Maine. To illustrate the process, Terri asked the group to
consider the current issue of USM’s decision to close both of its child care programs. She asked the
group to articulate the implications of this decision. Several issues were raised and follow:
B. Hager raised the issue of “the cost of quality exceeding the research,” and went on to explain that
USM is a local example of the broader issue of child care struggling to find ways to support quality with
limited resources. This issue impacts both improving and maintaining quality standards. It is also an
issue of capacity since there is not enough quality child care in the Greater Portland area to support the
families losing their care – particularly true for those needing infant and toddler care.
Lori Freid Moses said that families have told her that they cannot find care in the area and will, in fact,
not return to USM to complete their degrees without the care. She feels that the USM decision is
limiting access to higher education for these student parents, as well as those in the future who will now
not choose to come to USM. She is also concerned about the staff at USM who will now need to find
care and feels that this hampers the University’s commitment to being an “employer of choice.” She
added that faculty use the site for research, thus the closing of the centers also costs the University
thousands of dollars in research funding. Lori feels that because higher education ECE programs
(community college) use the site for student placements (practicum) the USM Child Care programs really
fit all of the strategic goals of the Invest Early Plan – Quality, Capacity, Workforce Development and
Inclusive settings. Lori added that listening to the Governor’s press conference today really brought
home the fact that as we move forward to invest in programs of quality, such as Educare, those
programs that already exist and are of high quality, such as USM’s, are closing.
Bill and several members added that the public private partnership that the Governor spoke to in his
remarks is critical to providing the highest quality of child care and yet USM is stepping away from this
role. There was some discussion among the group about the concern that if the U Maine System cannot
support early care and education, who will? Further concern about USM running contrary to the
Governor’s Business Roundtable Report on investing in ECE.
Lori Indicated that the parents at USM did a survey of current student parents and totaled the cost in
tuition based upon families (students) who will not return to USM without child care and that they
estimate it as a loss of $350,000 in revenue for the school.
Bill and Lori both talked about the research on employer supported child care as a recruitment,
retention and productivity tool for employers. These documented benefits should be used as
information to inform the USM decision.
Lori Freid Moses indicated that the decision has been made and that other vendors have expressed
interest in running child care on campus. She is now concerned that even that may be at risk since other
departments within USM are now interested in using the space for programs that are currently in leased
space off campus . It is important to support child care in some fashion at USM versus seeing these
spaces, originally built for children, utilized by other entities on campus.
Terri Petnov spoke at length about the lack of degree programs in Southern Maine for ECE practitioners.
She feels that the loss of the child care programs sets USM back even further from considering a four
year degree program in ECE, which she thinks is essential and has revenue-generating potential. The
only option right now for ECE practitioners is a private, out of state option that is three times as costly as
the state’s University System. She feels this is a lost economic opportunity for USM and for Maine. She
added that many child care/ECE lab schools are supported by fees built into the ECE degree programs
and used the field of nursing as an example of a field in which this model has been successful.
Bill H. also noted that there is a lack of high quality (step 4 on QRS) programs in the area to support a
degree program’s need for practicum sites if the University did decide to offer this degree.
Bill suggested that we should encourage the Growth Council to ask for a cost-benefits analysis on the
decision since this was not done. There has been a great deal of frustration with how the decision was
made without looking across all programs in a systematic way to determine cuts. Lori added that she too
has asked about this but was told this was not the process being used, but rather they were making
decisions based upon bottom-line deficits.
Terri again added that we should look at the data to support a need statement for 4 year degree
Deb Hannigan summed up the discussion to this point noting that it sounded like the decision was done
and that there was an opportunity for an outside vendor that should be pursued. She also added that
some statement needs to be made about the way in which the University makes individual campus
decisions that have a ripple effect throughout the system as a whole. She added that we should consider
framing our recommendations to the Council by using the triage model and list: Program issues,
Opportunities, and Policy implications.
The group again reiterated that it wants the University to hear the broader message which is that it fills
a leadership role and the current message it is sending in that “even the University is not willing to
support an investment in early childhood education.” And all campuses, and programs will wonder,
“What or Who is next?”
LFM added that the President has put her draft strategic plan on line and as she read it she saw an
alignment with early care and education in several of the strategies. Terri again added that the
University needs to support a 4 year degree program with the child care as a support to that academic
Carolyn Drugge added that she is concerned that this may be unrealistic given the work that was done
in better budget times that indicated the need for the degree program. Even then we were unsuccessful
in moving the University toward a degree program in Southern Maine. She added that the University is
cutting programs across the board and it is probably not the time to be asking them to add this as a
The group discussed the use of child care as a pr and marketing tool.
Discussion again about the State needing to be consistent in pursuing its goal for ECE. USM’s decision is
counterintuitive to the Governor’s goals for ECE in Maine.
Carolyn wondered if the decision needed to go the board of trustees - Lori said she did not think so..
The group also discussed how other campuses – Orono and Machias had resolved the issues there.
Machias is now run by Child and Family Opportunities and Orono remained open due to a large parent
contingent and a champion at UMaine, Orono – student affairs, who was also a parent.
The group agreed that we need to make a recommendation to the Council that both puts USM’s
decision in the broader context of ECE systems and the Governor’s report (issued today) as well as gives
some immediate guidance to USM with regard to keeping child care programming on campus.
Bill Hager, Aymie Walsh and Leslie Forstadt will write the recommendations, with Lori’s help with regard
to information and program facts.
Allyson agreed to type minutes and distribute today so that those writing the recommendation would
have access to the group’s thoughts.
The group will have something in draft by Thursday, March 19, and Terri and Aymie Walsh will present
this to the Growth Council on April 13.
NOTE: I also thought that in using the “POP” concept from the Addendum of Operating Procedures of
the MCGC, the group agreed that this issue met all three options: program, opportunity and policy. If I
remember correctly, Aymie suggested that this group makes the “program” recommendation to keep
USM Child and Family Centers intact because it goes against what the State is working towards (vis-à-vis
Invest Early, Business Roundtable recommendations on public/private partnerships, etc.) and if that is
no longer a viable option, we should at least recommend that USM keep quality child care on both
campuses. The” opportunity” recommendation is that USM should offer a 4-year degree program in
early childhood education. The “policy” recommendation is that the University of Maine do a cost-
benefit analysis on any cuts that would potentially impact children.