The effort to address the lack of licensed daycare in Boulder — and Jefferson County — moved a step closer toward a solution last week.
The Boulder Transition Advisory Committee votedApril 1 to send letters to the City of Boulder and Jefferson County, asking the two entities to support potential funding for a daycare working group.
The vote also called for the city and county to pursue a grant-funded staff position to assist with establishing a pilot daycare program in Boulder — with potential expansion county-wide.
The move was made during the April 1 BTAC meeting.
BTAC has elevated the lack of daycare in the city as one of its top priorities, as the last licensed daycare in the city closed in 2018. Since then, it’s been difficult for parents, particularly those with children under age three, to find a consistent source of childcare.
City leaders also see the lack as an impediment to future economic development.
BTAC member Barb Reiter said the working group that has formed to address this issue has been meeting regularly and has made a connection with the Headwaters Foundation of Missoula, and Headwaters RC&D in Butte, which could also provide funding and technical assistance.
The Legislature is also poised to act on House Bill 632, which allocates funding received from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act.
HB 632 calls for child care stabilization block grants, through the Department of Public Health and Human Services, and to prioritize “child care deserts” for one-time equipment and necessary infrastructure, property improvements, worksite childcare and employee training.
The bill currently calls for allocating $111 million toward that effort state-wide, and the legislation passed 86-14 on second reading in the House on March 30.
BTAC Chairman Drew Dawson said the group has also approached Kristi Wilson, who operates Kristi’s Kiddie Korner in Whitehall, and who would be willing to work with a provider wanting to start a center in Boulder.
“It would be awesome to get childcare in Boulder again. It’s so needed,” said Wilson.
With the grant funding and part-time staffer, the plan is to initiate a pilot program in Boulder and then expand it to other areas of the county, said Dawson, adding that this would be a joint city-county project.
The timing is good, given the federal funding being made available, along with the possible funding and technical assistance from the two Montana-based organizations, said Dawson.