HELENA — The culmination of Boulder’s town effort to attract more childcare options to the town and surrounding communities has resulted in a new Discovery Kidzone location in Montana.
“Rural towns have a hard time with high-quality care,” says Founder/CEO of Discovery Kidzone, Rachel Supalla.
After a working group was formed in 2021 to tackle the lack of childcare in the area, the nonprofit Southwest Montana Youth Partners was born. After putting out a request for proposal, the group decided on Discovery Kidzone as their chosen provider.
Discovery Kidzone will offer clients a 20% discount if they don’t qualify for the state’s Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship Program. They can offer this because they are given a discount on the building expenses by SMYP.
Supalla says she wanted to expand Discovery Kidzone to Boulder because of the community. Not only will this facility provide jobs, but it will also work alongside the high school to allow students to gain college credits for their work at the facility.
“The community aspect of it, because honestly a program this size is really hard to make work in childcare because our margins are so small. But because of the community aspect of it, that's what really drew me in,” says Supalla.
A 2021 report found some 32,000 working Montana parents rely on childcare to remain in the workforce but that Montana's current childcare capacity met just 44% of the demand for kids under the age of 6 and just 1/3 of the demand for infant care. And many rural areas are considered childcare deserts where capacity meets less than 1/3 of the demand.
The childcare facility in Boulder will be able to house 32 kids aged 0-5 and will be open 7 AM -5:30 PM. Supalla says that they plan to open as soon as they have the appropriate number of staff hired.
Discovery Kidzone is having an open house on Monday, April 3, until 8 PM where folks can enroll their kids and visit classrooms.