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Childcare becoming more difficult to find in Gallatin County during COVID-19 pandemic

“We only had 35% of 0-5 year olds covered with childcare in Gallatin County before the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Posted at 11:46 AM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 13:46:58-04

BOZEMAN — Finding affordable child care in Gallatin Valley was already tough enough during the pandemic.

Now as things begin to start opening up and people are getting back to work, it’s becoming even more complicated.

“We only had 35% of 0-5 year old (children) covered with childcare in Gallatin County before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Danica Jameson, executive director with the Greater Gallatin United Way.

And now, things may get even tougher.

Most schools in the area will continue with remote learning for the remainder of the school year, and parents are starting to go back to work.

“So you can imagine now with schools how much more time there is needed for childcare and how that impacts business and employees,” said Jameson.

And like many businesses during the pandemic, childcare providers are operating at a limited capacity with extra safety precautions in play, so it’s hard to make ends meet.

“When we see a pandemic shutdown and childcare (facilities) had to close, it became very difficult for many of them to stay open financially. Even if they could come up with the safety measure to keep the children safe, they just weren’t able to make it financially to stay open.”

Jameson says community partners are at work looking for local solutions.

But some of those solutions require some financial assistance.

And while federal aid can help childcare providers keep their doors open, Jameson says the issue is more complex, and may require us to change the way we think about childcare.

“I don’t want things to go back to normal after this crisis is over. I want them to go back to better than normal,” said Jameson.

On Wednesday, Governor Bullock announced $10 million in funding is now available for child care in Montana through a CARES Act Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG).