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Raise Montana: Elevating Child Care

Erin Switalski

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Last year, Headwaters Foundation made a three-year grant to support the work of Raise Montana, one of the many organizations working to help solve the state’s child care crisis. The purpose of the grant is to support the development of shared services for child care providers to increase the availability of high quality child care for children under the age of six years old.

It is estimated that Montana can only meet about 47% of the current demand for child care needs for kids under 5. Finding ways to support existing child care providers is part of the solution. The current reality of most childcare providers is that they base their business model on what parents can afford to pay, not what it actually costs to run their business.

As the network hub for all the Child Care Resource and Referral agencies in the state, Raise Montana is well-positioned to help individual child care providers connect to critical back-end services they often lack. The program includes curating discount packages on things like accounting services, enrollment software, and other business tools that many providers don’t readily have access to without a high cost. Having these systems could help them calculate the true costs of operating their programs and offer time savings in their current systems. Along with connecting providers with systems supports, Raise Montana will implement coaching support for small family, friend, and neighbor providers, is creating peer support networks for providers, and is piloting a shared substitute teacher model so that providers can have the option to take a vacation or not have to close due to their own illness.

The child care shortage in Montana is in crisis mode, and it will take a full spectrum of solutions to get at the fundamental barriers to ensuring all kids have safe and nurturing care in their earliest years. We are proud to support Raise Montana and their role in this ecosystem of solutions. Learn more about them here.