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Bozeman working with partners to expand and add childcare supply

Posted at 5:10 PM, Aug 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 10:38:25-04

BOZEMAN — The Little Spanish Preschool used to sit in Gallatin County, now a part of the City of Bozeman - the owner of the preschool says being annexed into the city will allow it to expand access.

“It’s a community that is full of children, I go everywhere, and I see kids everywhere, and unfortunately there is not enough childcare,” says the owner of Little Spanish Preschool Viviana Helvik. “Then we realized we needed to be able to have more kids we needed to be able to be annexed to the City of Bozeman.”

The City of Bozeman worked to annex the property Little Spanish sits on into the City. Helvik says being able to connect city resources like water and sewer will allow their preschool capacity to double.

“One of the biggest barriers is expanding access and hopefully that will take down some of the cost and make it more affordable for most families,” says Jesse DiTommaso, Economic Development Specialist for the City of Bozeman.

A lack of childcare has left some parents waiting on long wait lists, often keeping kids and parents at home. DiTommaso says the city is collaborating with childcare providers, employers and the state to work on expanding childcare.

“Right now there is an assessment that just came out because they are rewriting the regulations for childcare to hopefully make it more accessible and easier for people to become providers,” says DiTommaso.

According to Childcare Connections, Gallatin County has a shortage of 52 percent in licensed childcare. This is why DiTommaso is hopeful that the city will be able to expand licensing to grow childcare.

“The licensing I think is key for early childhood education because I do think that really closes an opportunity gap,” says DiTommaso.

Helvick grew up learning English in Ecuador, she hopes to instill a passion for the Latin culture and language in her students here in Montana.

“Kids learn to love diversity at a young age and to me that’s priceless and the parents bring the kids to the school that is what they appreciate and that’s what they want; besides the fact that they (need) childcare,” says Helvik.

Now that Little Spanish is in the city of Bozeman, the last step is to connect to water and sewer before they grow, which they hope to do in a month.