Resources to navigate child care during COVID

With the uncertainty the coronavirus pandemic brings to returning to school and employment, child care has been a main point of discussion at several school board meetings and the local and state level. There are several resources available to support families, including a grant to help defray the cost of in-home care for those that cannot allow their child to participate in group settings and financial support for child care facilities.

Last week ENHANCE released the results of a survey conducted of more than 3,000 Montana residents. ENHANCE is a collaborative initiative to address child care needs across the state of Montana. Due to COVID-19 school and business closures resulted in cascading affects to families, providers, businesses and schools.

Some of the survey results included:

• 78% of families have had negative employment impacts due to COVID. This includes being furloughed, fired/laid off, having a pay reduction or reduced hours, or being required to work from home.

• 92% of families requiring the same or more childcare through the pandemic.

• 72% of families in the survey reporting that they can afford childcare.

For full results from the study visit

The state of Montana announced last week that they are offering financial support to families of children that are unable to attend group settings.

Special Circumstance Scholarships for families requiring in-home child care are available for families with children aged 0 -18. The intent of the scholarship is to provide a solution for those unique, special circumstances that cannot be served under the school or traditional child care/school age care model. It may also include foster families and kinship families with unique in-home needs.

Special circumstances could be because children or parents have special health risks that don’t allow them to attend child care, or could be because there are no child care slots available or, like in many rural areas, group care is unavailable. Just because there is no ‘in person school’ is not necessarily a special circumstance. 

The scholarships amount is $4,000 per family and may be used for care in their home or in another provider’s home, such as a family member, a friend or a neighbor. Scholarships must be awarded and spent by Dec. 31, 2020 and are based on available funding. Applications are available on Missoula’s Child Care Resources website down to CARES Act Grants –and In-Home Grants for Families).

There are also School-Aged Child Care Grants available for organizations offering programs for school-age children in out-of-school time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grants are available to businesses, nonprofits, churches, community organizations and schools themselves who provide childcare for children serving ages five to 18. Programs do not have to be licensed. 

The grant is based on the average daily attendance at a $1,000 per child, per month rate. Programs must demonstrate how they will serve at least 25% low-income children.  Funds can be used to support additional costs associated with meeting health and safety needs and reduced revenue due to the COVID-19 emergency.

Applications are available online at Zero to Five and Child Care Resources can provide technical assistance to organizations considering this. 

With several districts in Missoula County returning to school this fall in a hybrid model and offering all-online options, the Missoula County Childcare Task Force is working with area providers to offer care for these students when they are not in school. The Joint Information Center website has been updated to provide information on available programs at

While not related to pandemic funding, Child Care Resources offers the Best Beginnings Scholarship for eligible families. This can be used at local child care facilities including Joyful Noise in Seeley Lake. Child Care Resources can help a family apply for the scholarship as well as learn about open slots at local child care facilities. More information is available at 

Child Care Resources also has staff available to support starting a child care facility. Call 406-728-6446 and they will connect you with an available staff member.  

There are also several parenting resources available.

• Healthy Start Missoula has created resource guides to help with pregnancy and parenting during COVID-19

• For questions regarding a child’s development call the Child Development Center 406-549-6413.

• Visits with a nurse, dietitian or parent support professional at the Health Department are available at no cost for anyone struggling with parenting issues (like child tantrums, infant sleep, breastfeeding/nutrition or other). There is no enrollment or commitment required. Call 406-258-4298 to make an appointment.

Additional resources are available at, and


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