BOZEMAN — At a time when the cost of childcare is increasing for families in Gallatin Valley, HRDC was able to use ARPA funds they received from the City of Bozeman to help fund scholarships for Head Start programs, which they hope will be more attainable for families in the valley.
For teachers Lezlee Theisen and Mindy Berlin at HRDC Headstart Family Center in Bozeman, they see first-hand how important childcare programs are.
“Sometimes the cost of childcare is what prevents them from putting their child in a quality program,” says Berlin.
“As a parent and a teacher all of my kids attended a head start,” says Theisen.
Theisen put her own 4 kids through Head Start and that is what helped her decide to come back and teach.
“It feels like coming into a home almost,” says Theisen.
HRDC has three locations total, in Belgrade, Bozeman and Livingston where they serve more than 150 kids. Sara Savage, HRDC Early Childhood Education Director, says as the price of childcare increases the demand for parents seeking a free head start program has also gone up.
“The biggest increase is families actually experiencing housing insecurity,” says Savage.
With the American Rescue Plan Act, they hope to provide $200- $500 to families monthly once the school year starts to help alleviate the cost of childcare.
“Even if you’re not from one of those communities were able to support all of those families,” says Savage.
Savage says reaching out to parents will help prepare the students for success later.
“We know that by being a part of this school were giving them a leg up. Not only for kindergarten but for a life of learning,” says Savage.
Theisen says watching students build a foundation makes each day worth it.
“This is the ultimate most rewarding job ever,” says Theisen.
As they just wrapped up the school year a few weeks ago now is when they see their work pay off.
“To see their growth, from when they walk in the door at the beginning of the school year to when they walk out the door at the end of the school it’s just incredible,” says Berlin.