Kudos to Gov. Greg Gianforte for dedicating $31 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to increasing availability of childcare for working parents. These funds will be directed to grants to increase capacity and hours of service for existing day care businesses.
The issue of childcare is personal for us, as we are able to significantly subsidize our 2-year-old granddaughter’s childcare. Most Montana families are not so fortunate. According to the Montana Budget and Policy Center, both parents work in 60% of Montana families. A lack of stable daycare means that parents must take time off from work or choose poor quality daycare. A resulting loss of income compromises a family’s ability to pay bills. And the economic fallout is significant; businesses lose up to $4.4 billion each year due to their employees’ childcare issues.
The distinction between hard and soft infrastructure is silly – building roads and providing quality childcare will both stimulate the economy. The argument that the market rather than taxpayers should address the childcare problem doesn’t hold water when most businesses are paying $10-12/hour.
The APRA funds for childcare are a good start, but we need more permanent solution to help Montana parents get back to work.