The Montana Department of Commerce announced a $15,000 Big Sky Trust Fund Planning Grant award to SMDC to secure professional services for a feasibility study for child care services in the Greater Lewistown area.
Together with SMDC, the study is spearheaded by the Central Montana Child Care Coalition—an informal group of child care practitioners, community leaders, business owners, and individuals who have expressed the need for access to quality child care services and facilities in the Greater Lewistown area. The Coalition formed in response to a number of community meetings where public concern was voiced about the lack of child care options, especially for children zero to five. Several area businesses also expressed concern about the impact that the lack of sick child care and before and after school care has had on employee absenteeism. It was reported that, in some cases, employees are opting out of the workforce altogether. At the same time, several larger employers have announced plans to expand operations into the Greater Lewistown area. The lack of child care services for future employees is stymying these efforts. These conditions present significant challenges for economic development.
Members of the Coalition include representatives from the following organizations and businesses: Central Montana Head Start; Fox Den Childcare; Small Wonder Childcare; Family Connections Montana; Boys & Girls Club of Lewistown; Central Montana Medical Center; Central Montana Community Health Center; SCL Health; Bighorn Valley Health Center, Inc.; Lewistown School District; Central Montana Education Center; Central Montana Health District; Central Montana Workforce; Fergus Coalition for Child and Health; Fergus County Prevention; Human Resources Development Council District VI; Snowy Mountain Development Corporation; and Fergus County Port Authority.