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Innovation Grant Funding to Expand Access to Childcare in Beaverhead County

January 9, 2023

The University of Montana Western and its partners—Canvas Early Learning Center and the Early Childhood Coalition of Beaverhead County—are excited to announce receipt of a Childcare Innovations Grant to expand licensed, quality infant and childcare in Beaverhead County.

Montana Western Campus

The $999,920 award is part of a state-wide initiative directed by the Early Childhood and Family Support Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. The University of Montana Western and thirty-one childcare providers across the state were chosen to develop and implement innovative community, area, region and/or business-based strategies to expand childcare availability for Montana families. Fundamentally, the grant supports working families, employers, and the local economy with expanded capacity to serve 16 infants and toddlers, 32 children ages 2-5, and offer after-school care. The center will be a signature program in the School of Outreach’s lifelong learning portfolio. 

The grant supports an innovative childcare co-op model that will offer an in-house sliding fee scale and expanded operating hours. The University of Montana Western’s early learning center model will increase capacity to serve the community, the students of Montana Western, and lower income families. The shared objectives of the grant partners—University of Montana Western, Canvas Early Learning Center, and Early Childhood Coalition of Beaverhead County—are to provide a broad and overarching service to the community at large, to innovate novel approaches to accessing childcare and maintaining affordability, and to offer quality childcare in support of local workforce needs. 

“This is a community and county-wide initiative that will expand capacity for families to have affordable access to an early learning center and will support the county’s workforce,” said Aaron Cashmore, UMW Early Learning Center Director.  

Care and education programming are slated to begin this fall on the campus of Montana Western. Look for staff employment and child enrollment to occur in the months to come. 

For more information, please contact Aaron Cashmore: 406-683-7320 or email [email protected]. The UMW School of Outreach can also be contacted at 406-683-7537.