The COVID-19 Pandemic has created unique challenges for Montana’s families who are working to balance returning to the workforce with child care and support needs. There is a widespread uncertainty about school options for school-age kids as a result of the pandemic. Some families include children or family members with special needs, including health and safety needs requiring in-home care. This may also include foster families and kinship families with unique in-home needs. Here are resources you may find helpful to share with your partners and employees:
- In collaboration with the MT VOAD Child Care Subcommittee, Zero to Five Montana created the Out of School Care and School District Collaboration Toolkit. This toolkit contains guidance for school districts, out of school care providers and child care providers to prepare for and engage in collaborative partnerships.
- On August 11th Governor Steve Bullock announced he will direct $50 million to increase child care options for Montana families and bolster the state’s child care infrastructure in response to COVID-19. Eligible programs include for-profit businesses, nonprofit and community organizations, school districts providing childcare, licensed child care providers, families, and Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. Grant applications can be found at https://commerce.mt.gov/Coronavirus-Relief.
Through this same funding, a special circumstance scholarship is available to help parents offset costs for children ages 0-18 such as individualized or specialized care, respite, increased food, and supply costs for in-home child care, increased cleaning needs, and support for remote learning. Families should apply through their local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency. The scholarship amount is $4,000 per family and may be used for care in the home or in another provider’s home, such as a family member, a friend, or neighbor. Funding is available on a first come first serve basis.
- Family Forward Montana is an emerging initiative to provide family-friendly resources and policy solutions to employers, connect employers with community resources, as well as to recognize employers for implementing family-friendly policies. Some examples of Family Forward MT solutions include on-site child care, teleworking and bring your baby to work policies. Learn more about Family Forward MT at https://www.familyforwardmt.com/, and stay tuned for more information.
Resources provided by Caitlin Jensen, Executive Director of Zero to Five Montana.