That is the amount my wife Staci and I spent on childcare last year. We share this experience with so many working families across Missoula. 

I am running for Mayor of Missoula because I firmly believe that we can create a city that supports and uplifts every member of our community. A crucial aspect of that vision for Missoula is attainable childcare for all working families.

Like many of you, we have personally experienced the challenges of providing quality childcare for my own family. The staggering cost of $15,000 per year for our childcare is a burden that many working parents face and is far less than some pay, making it out of reach for numerous families. This needs to change.

Attainable, affordable childcare must be top priority if we’re going to make any headway with the other issues that we face. We as a city must support our private and nonprofit childcare partners and assist wherever we can. 

As a supporter of the Missoula YMCA's capital campaign, I have learned and witnessed firsthand the positive impact that increasing childcare capacity can have on our community. I am proud to join the board of directors as their dream to double the YMCA's childcare capacity breaks ground. But our work doesn't stop there - I am dedicated to expanding these efforts to all corners of Missoula.

Zero to Five Missoula's "Missoula Childcare Advantage" program is showing us the way forward in supporting childcare providers. By building a strong business infrastructure, we can help these providers focus on their true passion - providing exceptional childcare - while streamlining administrative tasks and back-office support. Serving as President of United Way of Missoula County while the MCCA took form, won a state grant for innovation, and finalized its path to launch, has been a reminder of the power Missoulians have to envision an idea and bring it to life.

We can tackle this challenge together. My vision for Missoula is one where every family has access to affordable, high-quality childcare. My mother's four-decade career as an early childhood specialist and educator at MCPS showed me that when we invest in our children's early years, we invest in a brighter future for our entire community.

With the growing issue around our workforce's ability to afford to live in Missoula, we have a unique opportunity to partner with employers and encourage childcare facilities as part of larger business complexes, especially if public money aids a project. As a city, we are working on this very scenario as the development on city land of of Scott Street takes shape. There is no one size fits all, however, this type of creative thinking and brainstorming will be crucial to helping the working families in Missoula.