Missoula Parks & Rec awarded state grants to offer low-cost child care

MISSOULA - Missoula Parks and Recreation received two state grants to offer low-cost child care for school-aged children that will allow families to receive discounts of up to 95-percent off regular program fees, depending on income.

The grants total $960,000 and are designed to fund programs to meet the needs of working parents and children through December 2020. The grants will allow the Department to offer fee reductions of 50-percent, 75-percent, and 95-percent for the out-of-school-time program called BASE camp.

In Missoula, child care averages about $32 a day but with the grant money, families will pay either $5, $10, or $20 per day for full-day care, depending on income, and no family will be turned away due to the inability to pay.

Grant funds will also be used to transform the first floor of the old public library building into a recreation center for kids enrolled in the program and provide more child care at Lowell Elementary at no charge.

"We knew when we applied for the grant the possibilities and what this would open for our community," said Meg Whicher, Parks & Rec manager. "Receiving word that we got the grant was probably the happiest I've been since the pandemic hit."

Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler says the grants will benefit Missoula families in a variety of ways. “Parks and Recreation, with funding through the Montana Coronavirus Relief Fund, provides both short and long-term benefits of positive youth development, family stability, and economic recovery. Working together, our residents and businesses will recover stronger and faster.”

The BASE Camp program begins on Sept. 28. Residents can learn more at www.missoulaparks.org.

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