Advocate for Early Childhood Study

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Update: HJ 60 has passed out of committee and will be up for a vote very soon, possibly today (April 18th). Please contact your representative and urge them to support and prioritize this bill.

An early childhood study bill has been introduced in the Montana legislature. This bill would assemble a committee of legislators to study essential elements of early childhood, revolving around the availability and quality of child care in the state. The bill number is HJ 60. The committee would be tasked to study:

1) infant care payments and strategies used in other states to increase the number of infant and child care slots;

2) ways to increase the number of family home child care facilities and to support their businesses;

3) public/private partnerships to promote healthy pregnancies and resilient parenting, support affordable child care, and minimize transitions for children and parents;

4) coordination and alignment between systems impacting early childhood care, including education to ensure school readiness; and

5) how to best measure the benefits of a high quality early childhood care system to Montana's workforce, economy, and children.

This committee would be highly encouraged to engage with those working in early childhood to inform their policy proposals for the next session. This is a great chance for those of us involved in the vital work of improving the lives of young children and families to have our voices heard.

 

So what can you do?

1) Read the bill here:

2) Identify your local representative here:

3) Give them a call and ask them to a) support this study bill, and b) prioritize it, so it rises to the top of the pile of study bills and gets the attention it deserves.

You can also type a message to your legislator here:

 

What could your phone call sound like?

Feel free to keep your call simple and straightforward, but know that adding a personal element and a bit of your own story really helps inform your legislators.  

Here is a possible script to read, as a starting place:

Hi, my name is __________, I’m a constituent from ___________. I am in support of Bill HJ 60 to study early childhood care across the state and I ask you to please support this bill with your vote. I also ask that you prioritize this bill.

You can go on from here to tell your story and further explain why this bill matters to you. If you’d like a few talking points as to why this bill is so important, here are a few to help you out:

Montana has a concerning lack of affordable child care options.

60% of Montana families live in a childcare desert, meaning for there are three children waiting for every one childcare slot.

Lack of child care keeps parents out of the workforce harming the state’s economy.

Quality childcare is important to ensure healthy development for children between the ages of zero and five and results in benefits to children, families, and communities that last throughout the child’s lifetime.  

This is a great opportunity for community members, businesses, and organizations to come speak with you legislators directly and tell you what’s going on in our area of expertise.

The state’s money can go further by partnering with and leaning on the expertise of private entities and charitable foundations who are already doing this work.

Studies like this help unearth opportunities to improve the lives of children, families, and communities across Montana, so we can build a better future.

James Buscher