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Government & Politics

Montana Officials Divvy Up $74M In Federal Aid For State Health Department

Montana Capitol. (Photo by Jacob Baynham, Community News Service, UM School of Journalism.)
Jacob Baynham
Community News Service, UM School of Journalism
Montana Capitol.

A special state committee is sending Montana’s governor a $74 million spending plan for federal aid to health care programs. The money is targeted to boost low-income energy assistance, services for the elderly and Montana’s child care industry. 

The recommendations include more than $38 million in grants to child care providers. That plan received the most support during the committee’s public meeting Thursday.

Collette Box is the director of Discovery Developmental Center in Kalispell. 

“Montana’s child care system has reached a critical point as you’ve already heard, in its efforts to serve Montana’s working families and be part of the economic recovery of this state,” she says. 

Adam Meier, director of the state health department, noted that providers in Montana’s urban areas only have capacity to serve 27% of children under the age of six, and rural providers only have capacity to serve 15% of those children. 

“Certainly, child care deserts continue to be an issue. They existed before the pandemic in areas throughout the state. But the pandemic resulted in more closed child care businesses,” he says.

The child care issue largely went unaddressed during the 2021 legislative session. Gov. Greg Gianforte pledged that federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act would be deployed to help. 

The committee also voted to send $27 million to the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Other suggested allocations include $1.6 million to a similar water assistance program, $645,000 to Adult Protective Services and $7.3 million for programs to support the elderly and people who are disabled living at home.

The committee’s recommendations for spending will now move to Gianforte for approval or modification. 

More information on the federal stimulus money can be found at arpa.mt.gov/Health.

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