After nearly two years of around the clock work caring for COVID patients, in addition to their normal day-to-day work, Montana’s healthcare workers are finally getting some state assistance for their own child care expenses.

Jamie Palagi is the Administrator for the Early Childhood and Family Support Division at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and said ARPA monies are being allocated to help.

“Through the American Rescue Plan Act funding came into Montana to support childcare in a variety of different ways,” said Palagi. “Together, Governor Gianforte and the Health Advisory Commission determined to assign $5.5 million to help those who are working in health care to pay for childcare for children who need childcare while they're at work.”

Palagi outlined who is eligible to receive the healthcare funding assistance.

“Generally speaking, its for any employee who's providing direct patient care in any of these health care areas, behavioral health, disability services, health care and hospitals, or long term care settings, which would also include home and community based services, assisted living, skilled nursing homes or home health care,” she said.

Some may ask why this help is being made available to healthcare workers, mistakenly believing they might not need the financial help.

“On average, families pay between 8,400 and $9,500 for childcare a year, with infant care likely being higher around between $12,000 and $13,000 a year,” she said. “So this funding would to help those eligible families offset that cost, however the family would still be required to pay about $100 a month in childcare, but the rest of the bill would be picked up by the state.”

Palagi provided more details on who might be eligible for the childcare assistance.

“A family needs to be Montana residents, in other words, they need to live in Montana,” she said. “A family's income would be below 250% of the federal poverty level. And to give you an idea of what that is, for a family of three, the maximum income that a person could make per hour would be $26.45. The children also need to be under 12 years of age to be eligible for childcare assistance.”

Palagi said the Department of Public Health and Human Services was happy to be the conduit through which hardworking healthcare workers receive help with their own childcare expenses.


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