During a presentation at Magic Circle Theatre on Wednesday, Unify Montrose, under the nonprofit Unify America, selected its delegacy of 64 candidates to tackle Montrose’s childcare shortage.
Of 222 candidates, Unify Montrose organizers used a software called Netalot to both narrow the group down to 64 and make sure the group reflects Montrose’s demographics.
Over the next few months, those chosen will deliberate and, hopefully, converge on an action plan, according to Doug Gottlieb, Unify American founder.
The convergence on an action plan is the part that isn’t guaranteed, Gottlieb said during his presentation. To come together on an action plan, the delegation needs a two-thirds majority vote.
The solution is not necessarily evident yet, but the problem is clear.
About 69% of Montrose County households with kids under 6 years old have all parents in the household in the labor force.
“If enough of them can’t find childcare that they can afford, it’s not really clear what happens to the economy and public safety in Montrose,” Gottlieb said.
A video shown during the presentation featured representatives from different sectors of the community. Police Chief Blaine Hall was one. He said the problem has trickled down into his department, which is difficult to fully staff.
Matt Jenkins, spokesperson for the Montrose County School District was also featured in the video. It has already been made known within the community how difficult it is to staff the school district with enough teachers due to cost-of-living, housing and, of course, childcare.
“It’s important that we remember there are people struggling in Montrose and Colorado,” Jenkins said in the video. “Any rural area oftentimes has an even greater concentration of need and shortage.”
Montrose is labeled a childcare desert, according to an assessment conducted in 2021. If a parent can’t find childcare, he said, that parent can’t go to work.
The software that Unify Montrose used, Panelot, generated 1,000 possible panels which reflect the demographics of Montrose. From those 1,000, Gottlieb employed help from local youth to randomly select one in a game show-style presentation which included selecting lottery balls from bowls and rolling a giant die.
Some notable data: 22% of panelists come from a household income of under $25,000. Another 22% come from households making $25,000-$50,000. Females make up 61% of participants. Those who live in the City of Montrose make up 56% of delegates, and the other 44% live within the county.
City council members Dave Frank and J. David Reed, as well as Mayor Barbara Bynum, were three of many local leaders on hand, including local business owners and nonprofit representatives. The event was backed by the Back Beat Band, a high school jazz trio.
The demographic categories included age, income, race and ethnicity, language and political party affiliation.
The panel chosen was panel No. 266 of 1,000. Delegates are paid $15 per hour and will begin meetings later this month.
During the deliberation, Unify Montrose will still allow for “catalysts.” Those who join become part of the Unify Montrose Catalyst Club, which can give opinions and feedback but won’t be included in the deliberation or the action planning.
Justin Tubbs is the Montrose Business Times editor. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 970-765-0915 or mobile at 254-246-2260.