(photo by Peter Christian)

The State of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced on Thursday that $31 million in ARPA  (American Rescue Plan Act) funds will be sent out to help child care providers throughout the state.

Jamie Palagi, Administrator of the Early Childhood and Family Support division has details about the funding.

“Today, the Department announced that $31 million is available to support licensed and registered childcare providers,” said Palagi. “We've opened up an application so that childcare providers can apply for that funding to help offset and cover their ongoing operating costs. So basically what it costs to do business and provide childcare to all the children and families across the state.”

Palagi described the damage that COVID 19 has had on childcare providers throughout the state.

“In general, we have just under 1,000 providers, licensed and registered childcare providers in Montana,” she said. “During the pandemic at the top, we lost about 171 programs and since then, and these were June statistics we had about 21 of them reopen.”

Palagi described how the funding became available to local childcare providers.

“Montana had established a Health Advisory Commission which included legislators and members from Governor Gianforte’s staff to look at recommendations and take public comment on potential uses of funding, and then made recommendations to the governor who then authorized to use the funding for certain activities that were in accord with federal law,” she said.
Palagi said the $31 million in funding is available right away to those who apply.

“They're welcome to apply right now,” she said. “The application is on our website at childcare.mt.gov. There's a checklist for them to help them to do determine if they're eligible to apply. There's also information that tells them what they need to have that would help them prepare to apply. We're also hosting some town halls for childcare providers to walk them through the application and answer any questions, and we also have a call center set up to answer questions as childcare providers might be submitting their application.”

The number to call for assistance is 844-406-2772, and the website can be accessed here.

The monies can be spent on rent, mortgage and utilities, payroll and benefits, health and safety, facility maintenance and minor improvements, personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, goods to continue child care, such as diapering supplies and other care materials.

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