Alluvion receives grant for childcare program

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Alluvion Health has received more than $400,000 through the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services’ Child Care Innovations and Infrastructure Grant to develop an employer-sponsored childcare program. The new program will provide 40 employer-sponsored childcare slots, filling current gaps in the Great Falls community.

This new program will offer spots for families utilizing employer-sponsored childcare programs.

In employer-sponsored childcare programs, employees receive either discounted or free childcare on behalf of their employer, according to Alluvion.

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In 2021, Great Falls families were faced with an average cost of $40 – $45 per day for childcare, a cost that prohibits many from participating in the workforce, according to Alluvion, and employer-sponsored childcare can reduce financial burdens for employees while giving employers additional employee benefits.

Alluvion is hoping to work with other local businesses to open spots for current employer-sponsored childcare programs, and encourage the development of new programs.

Casey Schreiner, Alluvion’s vice president of strategy and innovation, said that they’re hoping to locate the childcare program at the old Roosevelt School that Alluvion is in the process of purchasing from Great Falls Public Schools, but that plan is still preliminary.

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A 2021 study through the Great Falls Development Authority estimated that there’s a shortage of about 580 childcare spots in the city and a strong interest and demand for new childcare facilities.

Alluvion is hoping to begin the employer-sponsored childcare program within 12-18 months.

Schreiner participated in a meeting regarding the possibility of a childcare coop in May that was hosted by GFDA.

At the time, he said that Alluvion was considering a different path than a coop model and that the coop model didn’t make sense for them and are instead pursuing this model under the grant.

Schreiner said they’re in the process now of reaching out to employers who’ve expressed a need for childcare to buy slots and move the plan forward.

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He said they’d done a phase one brownfield assessment at the old Roosevelt School and are in the process of a second phase assessment.

Schreiner said the grant dollars are one piece of a larger strategy for a child and family services center, “wherever it exists, but we hope that Roosevelt is the right location.”

In April, the GFPS board voted to accept a $899,000 offer on the school from Alluvion.

The board’s acceptance of the offer does not finalize the sale, as the agreement comes with several contingencies including Alluvion’s ability to secure financing for the purchase and remodel of the building, as well as the necessary zoning and permitting from the City of Great Falls.

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If the contingencies cannot be met, the parties are released from the agreement on Sept. 23, 2022, and the property would remain under GFPS ownership. If the contingencies are met, closing on the sale is set for October, according to the buy-sell agreement.