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Montana Childcare Business Connect expands into eight new counties

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Posted at 5:43 PM, Nov 06, 2023

Montana Childcare Business Connect community program aims to boost childcare capacity.

“We launched last May. In May 2022. It took some time to build the program, get staff in place and we’re really moving forward now. We’re already seeing a really good impact,” said Rhonda Schwenke, the Program Director.

In October, Connect revealed the next eight communities to participate in their Community Childcare Capacity Building Program, after a successful first group.

This initiative aims to help communities identify solutions to boost the supply of affordable childcare in their area.

“We always say that childcare is the workforce behind the workforce. For communities of any size, to be able to thrive and grow, childcare is critical to that piece of it,” Schwenke said.

Care is also just as important for the children.

Being in a childcare program helps them develop social and emotional skills and have school readiness.

Over six months, participants will evaluate, enhance, establish, and expand both new and existing childcare programs.

Communities chosen for the second cohort are:

  • Anaconda-Deer Lodge led by Michelle Harrington with Anaconda Community Involvement (ACI inc.) Big Horn County led by Shelly Sutherland with the BHC Best Beginnings Coalition
  • Broadwater County led by Allison Kosto with the MSU Extension-Broadwater County
  • Cascade County led by KC Beall with Peace Place
  • Jefferson County led by Rochelle Hesford with Southwest Montana Youth Partners
  • Lincoln County led by Dorey Rowland with Zero to Five Lincoln County
  • Sanders County led by Ray Brown with Sanders County Community Development
  • Yellowstone County led by Maia Dickerson with United Way of Yellowstone County

Some of the results from the first group include the opening of a new childcare facility with 15 slots, an open house and new staff recruitment process for a new childcare facility, a media campaign to attract child care workforce and the development of a childcare provider network.
Connect was created by Zero To Five to stabilize, innovate, and build early childhood systems.