Governor Greg Gianforte today announced that the state will devote ARPA funds to increase access to quality child care services for Montana families, protect Montana seniors, and provide home energy and home water assistance to low-income Montanans.
The governor is dedicating more than $38 million in ARPA funds to increase access to child care for Montana parents and to stabilize the child care system in Montana following the pandemic.
“For too long, Montana’s working families have faced a shortage of child care providers, putting them on long wait lists and between a rock and a hard place. The pandemic only made the problem worse, further destabilizing the system,” Gov. Gianforte said. “As Montanans get back to work, these funds will help stabilize our child care system, increase access to quality child care providers, and address child care deserts throughout our state. We are determined to use this one-time-only federal funding to produce long-term solutions that begin to fix this longstanding problem.”
According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), 171 child care programs closed in Montana since the start of the pandemic, reducing the number of providers by nearly 16 percent to 916.
More than $31 million of the funding will be directed toward subgrants for child care businesses. Priority will be given to child care providers that expand hours or capacity to serve more children; family, friend, and neighbor caregivers; faith- and community-based child care providers; and child care providers that serve unique populations such as children with disabilities, infants and toddlers, and low-income families.
More than $6.8 million will be devoted to program administration and operations, with at least half dedicated to providing Montana child care providers with needed grant application assistance, capacity building, technical assistance, and business professional development services.
In addition to providing resources to stabilize the child care system and increase access to services, the governor also announced nearly $8 million in funding to support and protect Montana’s aging population. More than $7.3 million will fund supportive services, congregate meals, home delivered meals, preventative health services, family caregiver support, and the DPHHS long-term care ombudsman. Nearly $650,000 will be allocated to establish three additional Elder Justice Councils and to fund a forensic investigator, prosecutor, and training team to improve the identification, investigation, and prosecution of adult maltreatment.
“Cases of elder abuse are heartbreaking, and sadly they’re increasing,” Gov. Gianforte said. “These Elder Justice Councils will help protect aging Montanans from abuse and financial exploitation.”
The governor also announced the allocation of nearly $29 million in ARPA funds for home energy and home water assistance for low-income Montanans with a focus on lasting solutions, including home weatherization.
DPHHS will serve as the lead agency in implementing these programs and allocating funds.