Childcare in Fort George Mead (Photo via Flickr | CC-BY-SA 2.0)
Montana announced on Wednesday that it will be investing $18 million to fund 31 child care innovation grants across the state.
The investment comes following a recommendation from the American Rescue Plan Act Health Advisory Commission. The funding will increase child care capacity by opening new, or significantly expanding current, child care facilities, according to a press release from Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office.
“For too long, Montana’s working families faced a shortage of child care providers, putting them between a rock and a hard place,” Gianforte said in the release. “To increase access to sustainable, quality child care and address this longstanding problem, we’re investing in quality providers who operate in child care deserts throughout our state.”
The funding specifically targets areas with significant observed shortages of child care capacity, also known as child care deserts. The project is intended to create capacity based on each community’s specific needs by leveraging resources, organizations, and plans unique to that community, the release said.
For example, according to the release, Browning Public Schools cited in its application two main primary needs for the funding: the current severe shortage of child care providers in the community and the increasing teacher shortage. Officials said they are hopeful this funding will help address both of those needs by increasing more child care slots, and by attracting more qualified teachers to the district. Brown Public Schools requested and received a grant for $207,000.
Family Promise of the Gallatin Valley also submitted an application citing the lack of affordable child care options in the area, especially for low-income, homeless, and other vulnerable families, and extensive child care waitlists in Bozeman. The organization received a grant of nearly $1 million to the Rising Stars Early Learning Center.
“We look forward to these numerous projects moving forward to meet existing needs,” Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Charlie Brereton said in the release. “We appreciate the careful thought and planning that went into the applications that we believe will make a tremendous difference in Montana.”
The full list of grant recipients can be found here.
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