Big Sky Childcare Task Force launches a survey to pinpoint community needs
By Finley Timon EDITORIAL INTERN
The Big Sky Childcare Task Force is aiming to evaluate child care services and understand the requirements of the local workforce through a community survey.
According to Ruthi Solari, director of impact at the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation, the task force works to achieve significant milestones in enhancing child care in the region. Solari said the task force secured funding from the American Rescue Plan Act amounting to $408,742, for the Morningstar Learning Center, with support from the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation. The Big Sky Childcare Task Force shared a press release asking local businesses to provide feedback on child care struggles and needs in the workplace. Based on the information gathered from the surveys, partners in the task force will look to shape initiatives to improve child care in Big Sky.
The surveys are anonymous, ensuring the confidentiality of responses, as mentioned in the release. The Big Sky Childcare Task Force, Yellowstone Club Community Foundation, and the Northern Rocky Mountain Economic Development District are calling upon the Big Sky community to contribute to a community-wide strategic plan.
“Our goal is to leverage data and develop business-friendly child care models that are sustainable and accessible to the local workforce,” Solari told EBS.
She also mentioned a $15,000 contribution from the Lone Mountain Land Company. Partnerships with the Greater Gallatin United Way and Big Sky School District have further introduced affordable and high-quality summer programming for 4- and 5-year-olds, creating valuable opportunities for children in the community.
As the task force shares two different surveys, they ask for input from both employers and employees.
Business owners and employers can complete this survey and help shape initiatives solving employee child care challenges—and the impact of those challenges on business operations. Survey results will help the task force develop targeted strategies and resources aimed at, “enhancing employee retention, work-life balance, and productivity,” as stated in the release.
“We want to identify the challenges faced by employees regarding child care and its impact on business operations,” Solari said.
She explained that a second survey will collect feedback from families, many of whom are members of the workforce.
The Big Sky Childcare Task Force is working to transform their anecdotal data with more comprehensive responses from the survey. Solari spoke on possible workforce challenges, suggesting that some parents are waiting two or more years on Morningstar Learning Center’s waitlist.
“We know anecdotally that it’s hard for our commuting workforce to have child care so far from where they work that they would prefer for there to be child care closer to their place of work and close to a place of residence,” Solari added.
Once more comprehensive data is gathered, the task force “[will] be compiling that data, looking at how it maps to some of our economic metrics throughout the community and be able to use that to inform a strategic plan that will help us to allocate resources and prioritize programming throughout the community,” Solari said.
In a follow up email to EBS, Solari wrote, “This survey will provide real data rather than leave employers guessing on what model will support recruitment and retention.”
With the child care needs assessment, the task force gives the opportunity to express how child care affects local businesses and families.