KALISPELL - Finding childcare has been an ongoing struggle for many parents across the Flathead, and beyond.
But with the help from American Rescue Plan (ARPA) dollars and the Montana Child Care Innovation and Infrastructure Grant, there may be some relief for parents in the Valley.
The Birds Nest Early Learning Village and Immanuel Lutheran Communities received grants to provide more quality childcare in Kalispell.
“I love what I do. I love running the business side for my teachers. I love finding high-quality teachers. I love providing this service for the community. It's so important. And so it's going to be such a huge blessing," said Birds Nest Early Learning Village owner Corrine Kuntz.
The Birds Nest currently has 54 students in four different in-home programs. Thanks to the $1 million grant they received, they plan to build one large learning center that will serve 120 children.
“This expansion and the grant will allow us to expand without having to finance that extra million, which will be really amazing. It'll allow higher wages for the staff. It'll allow for our program to potentially do scholarships for low-income families that don't qualify for the Best Beginnings Scholarship. And it'll just allow us to really make it through this a lot smoother,” said Kuntz.
While The Birds Nest plans to expand, Immanuel Lutheran is planning to create a new childcare facility. Immanuel is a full life plan community for older citizens and is having a hard time with employee retention and recruitment.
“What really sparked this idea was my conversations with my staff. And they were asking. We need affordable childcare. What can we do? What can Immanuel do to help us? And that really lit the fire under me,” said Immanuel Lutheran Communities President and CEO Jason R. Cronk.
Immanuel Lutheran will use the almost $870,000 they received to turn an existing space into a top-of-the-line childcare and education center. Both groups are working towards getting the facilities up and running and hope to do so in 2023.
“And so we're really excited not only to serve as a childcare Learning Center for our employees but also for the Valley because we have 74 places and that's more than we need for our staff. So it's going to be a great asset, I think, for families who are looking for a quality childcare provider here in the valley,” said Cronk.