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New Big Sky Summer Camp to provide eight weeks of child care

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Community partnerships work toward affordable, Monday through Friday child care in Big Sky 

By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER 

Beginning June 18 and running for eight weeks, the Big Sky kidsLINK Summer Camp program will provide activities and care for children in Big Sky.   

The summer program will care for 35 preschool-aged children—4- and 5-year-olds entering kindergarten—per week, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuition costs $200 per week, per child, with some scholarships available. Registration opened on May 25.  

The program requires commitment on a weekly basis, but does not require parents to sign up for the entire summer. Each week will have a theme and age-appropriate learning activities including literacy preparedness. 

A recent survey by Big Sky Child Care Task Force showed that more than 40 Big Sky families with 4- and 5-year-old children will need help caring for their kids this summer. After receiving requests from businesses and families, the Greater Gallatin United Way stepped up to create a solution, according to a May 22 GGUW press release.  

“Our job is to take action,” stated Kim Hall, GGUW president and CEO. “We mobilize resources, convene and collaborate to provide solutions. We are pleased to have had quick response from area agencies and funding partners to make this program a reality.” 

The release states that the program was created “in just days,” as Big Sky organizations stepped in to help.  

The Big Sky School District donated space, and to help launch the program and keep tuition low, Lone Mountain Land Company, Spanish Peaks Community Foundation and Yellowstone Club Community Foundation came together to prioritize funds, the release states.  

“This is Big Sky at its best,” stated Hannah Richardson, executive director of SPCF. “Our ability to come together to address community needs has always been a strength. We are grateful for this partnership with United Way to support our local, working families with an affordable childcare summer program. We believe this is just the beginning of the Big Sky Child Task Force’s ability to leverage existing partnerships and programs to create more child care options for Big Sky parents.” 

BSSD Superintendent Dustin Shipman wrote a statement to EBS: “We are thrilled to be able to partner with Greater Gallatin United Way to offer this programming for the Big Sky community. The trustees were unanimous in their support of whatever the program needs.”

Hall called it “remarkable collaboration” in an email alongside the release, and told EBS in a phone call that affordable child care need is “critical” in Big Sky.  

Mariel Butan, executive director of Morningstar Learning Center, is keenly aware of the need for quality, affordable care. She wrote in statement to EBS that she’s grateful for United Way for making the program happen.  

“Last year, MLC was the only provider offering enrollment throughout the summer for these children, and the demand was far beyond what we could accommodate. This year, we still have a waitlist for children three and under, but kidsLINK Big Sky is helping to close a huge gap in summer care in our community.” 

Ruthi Solari, director of community impact for the YCCF, also wrote a statement to EBS:  

“Working families are the heartbeat of Big Sky’s community. This program, which builds on the successful launch of BSSD’s 4K school year program, will provide affordable, accessible early-learning education during the summer and will help Big Sky to be more livable year-round for families. Childcare is an essential part of a healthy economy and YCCF is grateful to GGUW for mobilizing so quickly and working with Big Sky partners to expand this program to our community.” 

This story was updated on 5/26 with a comment from Dustin Shipman

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