GREAT FALLS, Mont. - In July, the Great Falls Development Authority did an assessment study to find out the demand of more childcare services in the Great Falls area. 

They recently released the results and there is a huge need for childcare for all different price ranges.

GFDA says the need for childcare is only going to grow. 

"There is an immediate need for approximately 580 children," said Brett Doney, President and CEO of GFDA. 

Not only do those 580 kids need childcare, but parents have also shown interest for a new facility as all daycares in Great Falls are full and have long wait lists. 

"It also outlines a number of challenges to address the demand out there. So, now we can start working those issues," said Doney. 

While you might not think of childcare services when you think of GFDA, Doney says they actually go hand in hand a few different ways. 

"One, childcare operations are businesses, whether they're for profit or non-profit. They're businesses. Our job is to help businesses start and thrive. Secondarily, workforce is the key ingredient in practically every business. So addressing things like housing and childcare all part of our efforts," said Doney. 

Those efforts are to help employers. 

Doney says he's confident they'll see new growth. 

"We have clients that are existing childcare operators that may consider an expansion. We'll also be publicizing it so new childcare providers either new or out of town will know what the market is here," said Doney. 

The Department of Health and Human Services also announced they'll have $31 million in federal funding available to childcare providers. 

"We stand ready to help any potential provider who is considering this step. Montana is working hard to increase the number of child care providers in the state, and this is an excellent chance to build capacity," said Jamie Palagi, early childhood and family support division administrator with DPHHS. 

The funding is available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

It all comes based on the recommendations from Montana’s ARPA Health Advisory Commission, Governor Greg Gianforte devoted $31 million to increase access to quality child care services for Montana families in June. 

Funding can be used for a number of things, including: 

  • 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

Providers can also request mental health support for children through the grant application process. 

DPPHS says as of June 1, there are 916 licensed or registered providers in the Treasure State. 

But since the pandemic, 171 of the programs closed; however 21 of those reopened. 

“Access to child care is an essential piece to the state’s workforce and plays a critical role in supporting Montana’s hardworking families, our economy, and our businesses. This funding will help address immediate challenges currently facing the child care industry due to COVID-19, and help resolve this longstanding challenge by building up child care capacity going forward," said DPHHS Director Adam Meier.

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

If you're looking to apply for funding, click here

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