GFDA says new report shows more childcare options needed

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GREAT FALLS – A new report released by the Great Falls Development Authority highlights what the agency says is a need for more child care services in the community.

“What we were trying to do is show that there was market support, market demand,” said Brett Doney, CEO of GFDA.

The GFDA public contribution requested for the report via a poll several months ago.

The summary of the report states:

Overall, the research concluded that there is a serious shortage of child care capacity in the city of Great Falls and that unmet demand may support the addition of several new child care centers. Existing child care centers in Great Falls are unable to meet current demand and, as a result, have long waiting lists. The results of stakeholder interviews indicate that the workforce in Great Falls suffers from a lack of child care services, with many workers unable to return to work due to the lack of child care services, while that others use family, friends and other non-traditional childcare options to meet their needs while they wait for their place on the wait list.

Doney said of the report: “He has found that approximately 580 children today need additional child care and we believe this will increase dramatically over the next few years. “

The study can now serve as a guide to help existing daycares grow and can be used to help attract new facilities to the city.

Brett Doney, CEO of GFDA

“We are sharing it with existing center operators. We already have some prospects of building new centers here,” Doney said.

One of the challenges of having enough child care is the workforce. According to the study, the child care industry employs 437 people in Cascade County and employment fell 12% – double the amount in the rest of the state – in 2020 due to closures related to COVID, stay-at-home orders and health and safety. protocols.

Lori Cereck, communications coordinator for Family Connections in Great Falls, said her agency was working with Raise Montana to create a replacement pool to help tackle the worker shortage.

Lori Cereck from Family Connections in Great Falls

Lori Cereck from Family Connections in Great Falls

“Anyone, even inexperienced. We’ll pay them to get the training they need, and then when a vendor has an opening, whether someone is sick or going on vacation or whatever, they can access the pool of replacements. “, explained Cereck. .

While the pool can certainly help now, it could prove to be even more valuable in the future. According to the study, it is estimated that 21% of educators are over 55 and may retire in the near future.

Click here to visit the Alternate Child Care Staff Services page on the Family Connections site.

Click here to read the full report (PDF). It also contains a list of all licensed child care centers in Great Falls.

For more information on finding and paying for child care, click here to visit Family Connections; Where click here to visit Raise Montana.


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