To: Montana Coronavirus Relief Fund Task Force

From: Funders for Montana’s Children

April 23, 2020

Funders for Montana’s Children is a group of foundations that have come together to foster partnerships to expand quality early care in Montana. FMC Members include: AMB West Philanthropies-an affiliate of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation; O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation; Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation; Lora L. and Martin Kelley Family Foundation Trust; First Interstate Bank Foundation; Headwaters Foundation.


Business leaders across Montana consistently voice their concern about challenges to attract families to work, retain employees, and keep parents productive at their jobs as a result of the lack of high-quality early care options for infants and toddlers.  In a 2019 study, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry reported Montana licensed providers could only fill the childcare needs of approximately 40% of families with children 5 and under. Parents report that they are leaving jobs, and not accepting jobs because they can’t find or afford childcare. 47% of respondents indicated they had to scale back or abandon careers due to childcare issues. Missoula Chamber of Commerce Survey 2018


As a result of Covid-19, many childcare businesses have closed because families without work no longer needed or could not afford care or because the threat of virus spread to children and staff seemed unmanageable. At the onset of coronavirus concerns, 59% of licensed programs in six Montana counties closed operations. Child Care Connections Bozeman MT. There is a risk that many of these businesses will not be able to reopen. In a recent survey of 6,000 childcare teachers and workers, only 11% were confident they would be able to re-open without assistance after a closure of an indefinite amount of time. 47% of those surveyed said they would not be able to survive even a two-week closure. NAEYC Child Care in Crisis March 2020

In a system that is already markedly insufficient to meet Montana families’ need for early care, Covid-19 has only exacerbated the childcare crisis and workforce impacts outlined above.  


Funders for Montana’s Children strongly support utilizing Montana Coronavirus Relief Fund resources to preserve existing childcare businesses and begin to address the factors that have created a system that currently does not work for Montana’s children, families, businesses and our economy.


We understand that the Early Services Bureau of DPHHS and professional child care organizations like the Montana Child Care and Resource Network will be making specific recommendations. We value their expertise and support their recommendations. 


Another resource with specific recommendations: First Children’s Finance: Preserving Child Care Now – Resources for State @ FMC Website https:/


Thank you for your service on this task force.


Mark Kelley, FMC Policy Committee

Amy Hyfield, FMC Executive Committee

Deborah Neuman, FMC Consultant