Unify Montrose, a nonprofit whose local efforts for the past several months have been to help Montrose solve its childcare shortage issue, wrapped up its process this week, and local delegates assigned to voting on potential actions have made decisions.
The two delegates leading the next steps toward implementation of actions to solve the childcare issue are Keith Obsheatz and Alejandro Salazar.
They will work to set up a 501c(3) nonprofit and implement the plans.
The actions voted on by delegates were Camp Montrose, The Nurture Network, The Early Childhood Education Center Upgrade.
Camp Montrose is “a partnership between Montrose youth program providers, childcare centers, and the school district, where they would bring together their various expertise to provide after-school, no-school day, and summer programming for K-8 students.” It received 87% of delegate support.
The Nurture Network
The Nurture Network, which received 70% support, is described as “Coordinating the efforts of local organizations that support family, friends, and neighbor (FFN) caregivers, help those organizations extend their offerings, and market to the community to encourage more FFN providers to get training, and more residents to become providers themselves.
The Early Childhood Education (ECE) Center Upgrade
This would mean “Replacing the school district’s trailers with yurts that can serve three- and four-year-olds in Montrose, and would also add yurts at elementary schools as needed. Drop-off times would be early enough and pick-up times late enough that parents can work a full day. A preschool camp would be available at the newly updated Center during the summer.”
Business Incentivized to Create On-Site Childcare Options
“Larger employers (such as the hospital or school district) and groups of businesses in the same location (the Target/Walmart shopping area) would be incentivized to create on-site childcare. These facilities could be physical additions to existing buildings, current spaces in existing buildings, or they could be yurts at a nearby location.
The childcare centers could be open to all children in the community, but employees with children from sponsoring employers would receive a discount and could have their tuition automatically deducted from payroll.”
Comprehensive Montrose Childcare Resources Site
Create a single website portal where Montrose residents can access resources and links to local and state websites (such as CCCAP and Colorado Shines), as well as information on Actions the Assembly may adopt. The portal website should cover a range of childcare needs and include information or links on financial aid, finding childcare, transportation, etc. The website could also advertise trainings for family, friends, and neighbors. While these resources exist across several websites, there is not currently a single location for this information. The website should also include a social media presence. When possible, make use of existing resources.
The delegates selected to take the process forward aim to work with leaders in the community to implement these plans.
Harry Gottlieb, founder of Unify America, picked Montrose as the area for nonprofit Unify America’s pilot program. He met two locals at a conference last year, one being State Sen. Don Coram and the other being Linda Gann, who ran the local Connect for Health Colorado and is still working on policy in the state.
They convinced him Montrose was the place to be.
In February, Unify America sent people to research the town and consider its needs. One need many spoke to them about was housing. The other was childcare.
“We ended up selecting childcare, because it affects so many parts of the community, you know, it’s jobs, it’s the schools, it’s public safety. It’s the economy,” Gottlieb said.
A 2021 childcare needs assessment conducted for Montrose County, the City of Montrose and the Uncompahgre Valley Alliance Childcare Caucus labels Montrose County as a “childcare desert.”
What that means is there are three times as many children in the county as there are licensed childcare spots. As of the study, there were 9,241 total children under 18 and 2,641 under the age of 6. The assessment projects those numbers will continue to grow.
Over the last several months, delegates selected randomly (but based on the demographics of the whole of the town) deliberated over several potential solutions. That process concluded earlier this week.
Justin Tubbs is the editor for the Montrose Business Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 970-765-0915.