Innovative Solutions for Child Care Challenges: Insights from Community Leaders

Across the state there are many communities that are developing and implementing innovative solutions for child care challenges. We reached out to communities that have participated in the Community Child Care Business Cohort to gather input on their ongoing work. These communities have demonstrated remarkable creativity and dedication in addressing the pressing need for accessible and high-quality child care services. Here, we share their insights and success stories, hoping to inspire and inform others facing similar challenges. 

Communities represented:

  • Jefferson County (JC) 
  • Lincoln County (LC) 
  • Sanders County (SC) 

Challenges Faced:

In order to understand the implemented solutions, you must understand the problem being addressed. Before implementing their innovative solutions, the communities encountered significant challenges in their child care landscape. These challenges included a lack of care, outdated data, and child care desert status.  

“In Boulder specifically, we didn’t have licensed child care for years.” (JC) 

Studies showed only 4% of the need was being [met by licensed care].” (SC) 

Innovative Solution:
The communities have completed or are in the process of developing and implementing solutions to address their unique challenges. These solutions were inspired by other communities, the pursuit of knowledge, and community partner needs and resources. 

“Solutions moving forward is the gathering of data […] Finding out the biggest challenges parents and families face and trying to relieve that, but on the flip side finding the challenges that child care facilities face and trying to relieve those as well.” (JC) 

“Innovative solutions we are in the process of implementing include but are not limited to: an Empathy Interview with our valued childcare providers where we not only gained data but formed a greater appreciation for their hard work; a survey in progress specifically geared towards parents of young children and discovering what their specific needs are regarding childcare; creation and distribution of a trifold brochure promoting local child cares, daycares and preschool programs with contact information, program details and hours transparently provided.” (LC) 

“We conducted our own survey, identified current and potential providers, gave one-on-one support to new providers, and we are looking for church facilities to partner with for facilities.” (SC) 

Stakeholder Involvement:
Key stakeholders, including parents, child care providers, local businesses, and government agencies, played crucial roles in the development and implementation of the solution. Their diverse collaborations have worked thoughtfully to set these solutions up for success.  

“Connection has been our theme from the beginning, and we are thrilled to say this process has brought together a caring group of cohort members dedicated to working with our community. Community members from daycares, childcares, libraries, businesses, schools, non-profit sectors, the health field and parents make up our diversely unique cohort population.” (LC) 

“We started with the survey and then raised local awareness that this is an issue seeking local solutions. This incentivized the public to become involved.” (SC) 

Strategies for Success:
Several strategies were employed to ensure the continued and future success of the implemented solutions. 

Key strategies employed to ensure the success of our implemented solutions include transparency, inclusion, and a hopefully humble approach which initiates involvement across the community.” (LC) 

“Written agreements, have been helpful.” (JC) 

Milestones and Successes:
Since implementing the solution, the community has taken time to fully understand and celebrate the impact of their hard work. After reflecting on the data and outcomes the teams have identified future direction.  

“It has opened up slots for children and families who have been stuck on long waitlists and helping families send their kids to safe and healthy environments.” (JC) 

“We are hoping that by identifying church partnerships we can eliminate the costs of new construction for facilities. Our survey showed that the cost of building a day care facility was the main barrier to for developing new providers.” (SC) 

Lessons Learned and Advice: Reflecting on their experience, community leaders offer valuable insights and advice for other communities facing similar challenges. 

“We are still a work in progress, but it has become clear that our focus on inclusion and equity has encouraged participation in our vision.” (LC) 

“Look for partnerships, develop shared resources to reduce operational costs, identify existing successful providers for mentorship, work with top employers on developing direct partnerships with providers.” (SC) 

“Sometimes it’s hard being patient, being able to come up with a long term solution […] unfortunately it takes time.” (JC) 

Conclusion: Innovative solutions are key to solving child care challenges and creating thriving communities. The experiences shared by these community leaders serve as a testament to the power of collaboration, creativity, and dedication in building a brighter future for our children. 

We extend our sincere gratitude to the communities and leaders who generously shared their insights and experiences with us. 

Are you facing child care challenges in your community? Reach out to MCCBC to learn more about how innovative solutions can make a difference! 

– Shelby Whelan is Zero to Five Montana and Montana Child Care Business Connect’s Community Navigator. She can be reached at