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12/16/2016 - City of Bangor Working to Address Home Daycare Ordinance to Facilitate Compliance with State Regulations

Recently a letter was mailed to licensed home-based daycare providers in Bangor by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This letter indicated that because the City of Bangor ordinance limits home occupations employing staff that do not reside in the home, these daycares may be out of compliance with local regulations. The letter indicated each facility would be required to document compliance with the City's ordinances before its current license expired.

Under City ordinance, home occupations located on a major arterial road can only have one outside employee; other home occupations cannot have any. When DHHS recently increased required staffing ratios, this created a conflict for daycares being run as home occupations. To meet the new staffing ratios, home daycares would need to hire additional staff (potentially violating the local ordinance) or reduce the number of children in their care to remain compliant with both state law and local ordinance.

The City of Bangor values our daycare facilities and the critical role they play in our community. We have asked DHHS for a 90-day reprieve from enforcement of the licensing provision in order to adjust our City ordinance so that it balances the new state guidelines for daycare staffing with appropriate zoning and land use standards to protect neighborhoods. Staff at City Hall are working diligently on this matter. DHHS staff have agreed not to hold up any license renewals (for this reason) during the next 90 days to allow the City to make needed changes.

"As a working parent myself, I know how critical quality child care is to Maine families," said Tanya Emery, Director of Community and Economic Development, who oversees the Code Enforcement Division of the City. "When our staff became aware of this conflict, we immediately began working to address this in cooperation with DHHS. We wish to avoid any conflict between state and local regulations that might lead to a decrease in quality child care in our community. In the next 90 days we will bring forward proposed changes to the ordinance for the City Council to consider in hopes of creating regulations that work for all stakeholders."