Child care expenses in Missoula

Child care expenses in Missoula.

Caring for other people’s children during the period when the brain grows more rapidly than at any other time of life is a tremendous responsibility. Supporting and encouraging children’s rapid progress is a joy. And, operating a home-based childcare business has all the complications of other businesses, including licensing regulations, insurance, supplies, professional development and employees.

The recent (April 21) article about the MyVillage franchise opportunity described one strategy to support home childcare business owners with the business side. At Child Care Resources we’re excited about this venture and hope it results in more childcare businesses to help meet the needs of working parents.

The number of childcare home facilities in Montana has declined by 39% since 2010. This has created an access crisis, particularly for infant care. Home childcare facilities usually serve infants (children under 2), whereas many centers do not for financial reasons.

In the recent article, MYVillage reported a childcare owner could potentially earn $65,000 a year. At Child Care Resources, we work with childcare owners every day in Missoula, Ravalli and Mineral counties. We don’t know of any childcare home that is netting anything close to $65,000. We hope that the MyVillage franchise will help home childcare business owners earn a living wage, which will help attract people to the business and help solve the access crisis. We do not believe this model will significantly lower the cost of child care for parents. We are working with area businesses to explore ways businesses might support their workforce by investing to help increase childcare capacity and lower the cost.

Clint Burson of the Chamber of Commerce was quoted saying that it doesn’t make sense to work if a parent has two kids in child care. While possibly true in the short-term, over a person’s full career it results in significant financial loss. A recent study revealed that when a professional woman leaves the workforce for five years, the financial impact of that decision over her anticipated career is about $497,000 in lost wages. For a man, this loss is around $596,000. This accounts for five years without income, re-entering at a lower place in the career ladder, lost promotions, loss of health insurance and less employer contributions to retirement. This article  (fortune.com/2016/06/22/stay-at-home-parent-cost) summarizes the research and includes a calculator for parents to assess their own situation.

Staying home with young children is fabulous for children and the family. We wish all families had the opportunity to choose to have a parent at home. And, we recognize in today’s circumstances, for many families that is not possible.

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Kelly Rosenleaf is director of Child Care Resources in Missoula. 

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