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Missoula’s Child Development Center to close after 50 years due to loss of state contract

The loss of a state contract is forcing Child Development Center in Missoula to close after 50 years
CDC Missoula
Posted at 9:22 AM, Jun 19, 2024

MISSOULA — Families served by the Child Development Center (CDC) in Missoula recently learned that the center is shutting down for good after it was not awarded a state contract to operate.

The news comes as a shock because it means dozens are losing their jobs and families across Western Montana served by CDC are now worrying about what's next for their children.

“Shock, sadness, dismay. I am really sad about how this will impact our families that we’ve been seeing,” said Child Development Center physical therapist Andrea Leeds.

Andrea Leeds
Child Development Center physical therapist Andrea Leeds says she's shocked and sad that the Missoula facility will be closing its doors.

CDC has been here providing screenings, evaluations and family support for children with developmental delays and other health care needs in Missoula for 50 years.

However, they recently found out the state contract for the Part C Early Intervention program was awarded to Benchmark Human Services instead. The loss of that contract effectively shuts down the center and all Its programs.

“Because that's such a large portion of our revenue we would not be able to operate even if we started reducing staff,” Child Development Center CFO Greg Malone explained. “There's not a way to spread our overhead among the remaining programs.”

Greg Malone
Child Development Center CFO Greg Malone says “Because that's such a large portion of our revenue we would not be able to operate even if we started reducing staff.

The therapists at Child Development Center are also reeling because they were often told the way the Missoula office operates its programs is a model for the state.

"I was shocked that we held this contract for so long. We provide superior services. To hear that it was not renewed was very shocking,” said CDC speech therapist Christy Cheviron.

"We know that Missoula has been said to be the leader in the state. Our communities in the state are the leaders in how early intervention services are provided, and so we were once told they wanted to model after how we're doing things here,” Leeds noted.

CDC Missoula
The recent loss of a state contract is forcing Child Development Center in Missoula to close after 50 years.

Besides the early intervention program, the autism services program is also going away — at least in its current form.

"I’m devastated for my son. Just because he is non-verbal doesn’t mean he’s not intelligent,” said Delilah Friedlander whose son goes to therapy several times a week.

Friedlander is worried about the gap between Child Development Center’s closure and the new company taking over.

"He really truly loves the staff and has made a bond...with the CDC. So, this disruption will really hinder the milestones he's made with this group,” Friedlander told MTN.

Christy Cheviron
CDC speech therapist Christy Cheviron says, "I was shocked that we held this contract for so long. We provide superior services. To hear that it was not renewed was very shocking."

It will be a big change as families adjust to a new provider and therapists look for new work. And while change is always inevitable, staff members told MTN that this happened so fast that it’s been hard to process.

"A lot of the parents have been devastated. Most of the families I work with have reached out to express their concern.” Leeds said.

“They have trust in us to help with their children — to be able to know that the person you are working with loves your kids and wants the best for them. To have that removed from their lives really quickly is really difficult,” Leeds continued.