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Build Back Better to Provide Boost to MT Families, Supporters Say

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Thursday, November 18, 2021   

HELENA, Mont. -- Supporters of the Build Back Better Act are touting the benefits it will bring to families in Montana and across the country.

A number of provisions in the legislation would directly help families, such as extending the Child Tax Credit. The credit went into effect during the last round of pandemic aid from Congress, providing cash directly to families monthly.

Kelly Rosenleaf, executive director of Child Care Resources in Missoula, said the measure has pulled Montana families out of poverty.

"Right now, nearly 200,000 children in Montana are benefiting from the child care tax credit as of October, and that's providing about $200 million to Montana families between July and October," Rosenleaf outlined.

The Build Back Better Act is receiving pushback because of its cost. The House could vote on the legislation as soon as this week.

Another provision in the Build Back Better Act would open up preschool for all Montana children ages three and four. The state is one of only six without investment in universal preschool. Currently, only 18% of three- and four-year-olds in Montana attend preschool.

Rosenleaf pointed out another important piece would ensure no families pay more than 7% of their income for child care. She noted more women than men have left the workforce and stayed out of it because of the lack of affordable care.

"It is an underpinning of the workforce," Rosenleaf asserted. "If we don't invest in child care, we will continue to have a workforce shortage."

The pandemic has put into stark relief the struggles families face. Rosenleaf believes there is something to be learned in every crisis.

"In this crisis, more attention has been drawn to these issues around dependent care -- both for children and for seniors -- and those issues as they impact our workforce. So some good might come," Rosenleaf concluded.


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