Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The visionary plan to bring numerous childcare services together in one location is open for business, with a community open house on June 13.

I spoke with Sally Henkel, coordinator for Missoula Child Care Advantage recently, who provided more details about the center that was originally planned to open at the outset of the COVID pandemic, but was shelved at the time.

Multiple Child Care Businesses in Cold Springs School Location

“We are hosting an open house event to celebrate the opening of our new facility at Cold Springs,” began Henkel. “This is under the Missoula Childcare Advantage Project through Zero to Five Missoula and United Way of Missoula County, and it really aims to increase access to childcare, stabilize the childcare sector, and also kind of braid in a lot of sectors that typically aren't engaged in childcare solutions.”

Henkel acknowledged the extreme difficulty that young parents face in seeking quality, affordable child care in Missoula.

Finding Child Care is 'a Pretty Grim Situation' said Sally Henkel

“It's a pretty grim situation out there, and so that's a huge problem to try to fix,” she said. “This project aims to really get at the root of finding solutions. It aims to stabilize and strengthen the childcare sector so that we have more childcare. People want to go into childcare, they stay in childcare, and there's mentorship. It is just a much stronger field so that they can then reinvest some of that time and money into paying staff better and maybe those tuition rates come down a little bit, but it'll be the domino effect that remains to be seen.”

Henkel described how to get more details about Missoula Child Care Advantage.

“Much like any other service that you would look up information about, it's all right there,” she said. “It's really clean. You can talk to the provider and join their waitlist. But then because it's automated and streamlined, it's really intended to move faster. It offers slots to families when they become available. So it's kind of all over the place and some providers are totally fooled looking at some waitlist and with others they still have open enrollment.”

Find out More About Each Child Care Business on their Website

Henkel said each individual childcare business in the old Cold Springs School location offers its own rates and services.

“They're all autonomous businesses and are individualized,” she said. “Because they're in the same location that kind of works itself out. So there is a variety. The reality is that really the main funding stream for all child cares comes from parent tuition and there are a lot of things that they (the providers) have to pay out of that money including snack time, insurance, and other admin overhead costs, so it is pretty on par with what a lot of childcare looks like already.”

There are six childcare entities located in the former Cold Springs School; Bumblebee Academy; Best Attitudes Daycare; Kid Wonder Learning Center; Montana Mama; Small Bird Daycare; and Montessori Plus International.

The open house is Thursday, June 13 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the southwest wing of the old Cold Springs School, behind Wal-Mart on Briggs Street.

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Gallery Credit: KC

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