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Missoula Chamber studies child care issues

Photo Courtesy: NBC Montana
Photo Courtesy: NBC Montana
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New numbers from the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce give them a better idea of just how much child care costs in the city.

The chamber launched a survey in December asking area parents about their experiences with child care, and Clint Burson, the director of Government Affairs at the Chamber, says they were surprised at how expensive it really is.

They found the average parent of a baby younger than one year pays $819 per month and just under $700 for one to three year olds. That puts child care as the fourth highest monthly expense after housing, transportation and food. If it’s an infant, the child is the second highest expense.

Numbers based on a household with two working adults and one child put the median household income at $41,968, but the income needed to cover basic expenses is $57,661.

The chamber breaks that out to:

  • Housing $11,100
  • Transportation $9,011
  • Food $8,154
  • Child care $7,650
  • Medical $7,384
  • Taxes $6,417
  • Other $5,375

Affordability isn’t the only problem -- Burson also says availability of child care facilities is scarce.

"It's important, because it affects people that are trying to get back to work or want to go to work. One of the things that we found was roughly 47 to 48 percent of the people that responded to the survey have either scaled back their career or entirely left their career due to child care issues," said Burson.

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He said now that they know what the problems are, they can start to look at ways to address them. They’ll start by addressing the availability by trying to get more people to set up day cares.

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