This session, the Montana Legislature passed HB 648, making major strides in addressing the lack of access to affordable child care in Montana. We received GREAT news last week that Gov. Gianforte signed HB 648 into law, and the measures to expand the Best Beginnings scholarship program will go into effect on July 1. Here’s a bit more background on what this means for families.
HB 648 investment of $14 million over the next two years is a critical step in expanding Best Beginnings and making sure the program works for parents and providers. HB 648, sponsored by Rep. Alice Buckley (D-Bozeman), does three things:
HB 648 will go into effect on July 1, which means families living between 150 percent - 185 percent will now be eligible for Best Beginnings starting next month. Parents already accessing Best Beginnings will be receiving notification from the Department for Public Health and Human Services with their re-calculated, lower co-pay amounts, starting in July.
Throughout the session, we heard from many working parents struggling to access Best Beginnings and make child care work for their family. For some parents, the rising co-pay levels were pricing them out of child care, forcing a difficult choice to cut back on hours or leave the workforce entirely. As one parent said, “HB 648 would make such a difference for families like mine who just need a little extra help.”
We applaud the Legislature and Gov. Gianforte for investing in Montana families and businesses and working to make child care more accessible for low-wage workers.
MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.