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A group of Missoulians will go to the White House in Washington, D.C., next week to discuss child care.

Kim Latrielle, the CEO of the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce, has been invited by President Donald Trump to attend the White House Summit on Child Care and Paid Leave on Dec. 12. She will be joined by a representative from the Missoula Early Learning Center and local architecture firm Cushing Terrell. 

The Missoula Chamber spent more than a year and a half working to find solutions to the lack of affordable child care, and published the results of a survey earlier this year that found the cost of child care is causing many workers to scale back or abandon their careers.

Latrielle was out of the office on Thursday and unavailable for comment, but Clint Burson, the director of government affairs and communications at the Chamber, said a couple of other Missoulians involved in child care will be going. Mark Roberts, the co-owner of the Missoula Early Learning Center, will be one of them.

Burson said the Missoula Chamber’s work on child care caught the attention of the Minneapolis branch of the Federal Reserve, and then it caught the attention of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Missoula Chamber sent questionnaires to people all over the city, and 550 respondents reported paying $637 per month for child care on average. Infant care was the most expensive at $819 per month.

That means child care is the fourth-highest expense for a family behind housing, transportation and food, and the second-highest expense during the infant years between 0-2.

The pre-tax median household income for two adults in Missoula is $41,968, he said, while the income needed to afford basic expenses is $57,661. That includes $7,650 per year in child care expenses, on average.

According to the Missoula Organization of Realtors, the average cost to rent a three-bedroom home in Missoula in 2017 was $1,130. Combined with the average child care costs, that equals more than 50% of pre-tax income for a family making a median income.

“Cost and availability are the top reasons why respondents are currently utilizing alternatives to child care centers, such as grandparents or in-home facilities,” the Chamber’s report states. “Notably, over 47% of respondents indicated that they have scaled back or abandoned their career (or expect to) due to child care issues.”

According to McClatchy, a media company, Ivanka Trump is expected to speak at the event next week.

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