HELENA - A Day Without Child Care hopes to bring focused attention and change to the childcare industry in this country by having childcare organizations shut down for the day with the goal of shining a light on the national issues faced by the childcare industry.
Florence Crittenton in Helena did not want to inconvenience parents by shutting down their childcare operations, but do want to help raise awareness about the challenges the childcare industry face.
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“To lose people, you know, that this is where they want to be, and this is their career is, it's devastating for us to watch that happen to them. And then it's devastating for the organization because, that's, those are the people that we need,” said Florence Crittenton executive director Carrie Krepps.
The website for the movement says that the day is meant to bring awareness to and hopes to change the wages of childcare providers, create an equitable childcare system built on racial justice, and create affordable childcare for all families.
Montana’s STARS program is a voluntary quality rating and improvement system for early childhood programs and professionals. According to ZerotoFive.org, an organization that works to improve systems for children throughout Montana, Lewis & Clark County is tied with Missoula County for the county in Montana with the most amount of quality childcare providers. Yellowstone is 2nd with 10, and Gallatin is 3rd with 8.
Florence Crittenton Family Services provides family-centered support here in Helena. Among other programs, they provide childcare and preschool. Because they have already had to reduce their hours in the past few months due to workforce shortages, they’ve decided to stay open today in support of the families they serve. But they say they still stand in solidarity for a change within the industry.
Krepps hopes that Monday’s event will bring home the ripple effect that the childcare crisis can have throughout a community.
“Whether you have a child in that situation or not, it is going to eventually affect every single one of us. From, our, the businesses that we want to have open not being open because of workforce, because of lack of childcare...” says Krepps.
Krepps does say that she is thankful to live in a community like Helena that is open to conversations and change around the subject.
“If we really just come at it creatively and working together, I think the solutions are not far off. We just, it's time to open the conversation and really lay all options out on the table and not come at it from a place of, ‘Oh, well, we've tried this before,’ but, ‘What haven't we tried?’ or, ‘Let's go back and revisit,’” says Krepps.