In the Community

Support for HB624

March 24, 2021

“Childcare is the foundation of our economy, enabling more than 14 million parents with young children to participate in the workforce,” said Cheryl Oldham, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “It is clear that if we don’t find long-term cross-sector solutions to this crisis, the negative impacts on our workforce and economy will be felt for years to come.”

These words are especially true in Montana, where even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual economic loss to our state economy due to the lack of sufficient childcare was $232 million. Almost ¾ of Montana households with young children have all parents in the workforce, but childcare in a licensed program in Montana is only available for 47% of those who potentially need care. Inadequate childcare also has negative effects on Montana business revenue totaling approximately $55 million annually, as this issue causes many employers experience lower employee productivity, high turnover rates and related recruitment costs. All in all – if Montana does nothing to address the lack of adequate childcare, our state economy stands to lose $907 million over the next ten years.

However, there is hope. Across the country, innovative efforts are under way to form productive public-private partnerships to improve childcare and address shortages, and it is clear that Montana should not be left out of these conversations. This is why the Advisory Committee of the Women’s Foundation of Montana, an organization focused on breaking down barriers to equity for Montana’s women and girls, is excited to support HB624, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Alice Buckley (D-Bozeman) and Sen. Walt Sales (R-Manhattan).

HB624 will establish a task force of business leaders to make recommendations to incentivize employer-supported early childcare and improve childcare access and affordability for employees enhancing business performance and workforce development. Funder for Montana’s Children, a group of Foundation leaders, has committed to covering all costs of the work task force so there is no financial impact to the state within the bill.

As we look to economic recovery in our state, we need to pursue solutions that ensure all of our qualified workforce is able to pursue employment and contribute to our economy. Please urge your legislator to vote YES on HB624.

Women’s Foundation of Montana Advisory Committee Members

Kali Wicks –Chair, Barbara Bessette, Kristina Davis, Hillary Folkvord, Aimee Grmolijez, Jayne Morrow, Cami Skinner