Head Start Early Childhood Education adapts to continue helping families through COVID-19

A playground at the HRDC Head Start Early Childhood Learning Center in Bozeman.

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Parents looking for daycare services are struggling as Montana’s total child care capacity meets less than half of all current demands for daycare in the state, both for kids and newborns.

Montana child care providers can now send in applications for $31 million of federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) announced by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

Based on recommendations from Montana’s ARPA Health Advisory Commission, $31 million was put towards increasing access to quality child care services for Montana families.

Registered and licensed child care providers can apply for the funding here.

Providers could receive 80-100% of their operating expenses and grant funds for child care providers can be used for:

  • Rent, mortgage and utilities
  • Payroll and benefits
  • Health and safety
  • Facility maintenance and minor improvements
  • Personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies
  • Goods to continue child care, such as diapering supplies and other care materials

Mental health support for children and providers can be requested through the grant application process.

Eligible child care providers must be licensed or registered with DPHHS at the time they submit the application. Those eligible include child care centers, family and group child care providers.

According to DPHHS, as of June 1, there were a total of 916 licensed or registered providers in Montana, however, since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 171 programs closed across Montana, with 21 of those now reopened.

A call center has been set up to answer questions and provide technical assistance to support providers in completing the applications at 844-406-2772.

Right now across the state 60% of counties in Montana are classified as child care deserts including six counties without a single licensed provider.

Hard-working moms like Abagale Lindberg in Bozeman said her daycare center is completely full and her busy work schedule plus rising housing and rent prices in Montana is not helping.

“The daycare I’m at is full, every single classroom is full, there’s not a single opening, and you know when you have a waitlist that’s you know 50 plus kids long, you have people that are coming that are only four-five months pregnant that are trying to find childcare for months out,” Lindberg said.

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