Cost of child care one of biggest challenges facing Missoula County, nationwide study says

Bret Anne Serbin

A nationwide study looking at the health of counties identified the cost of child care as one of the biggest challenges Missoula County families face.

The University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute released the annual report Wednesday, which looked at more than 90 health-influencing factors including education, housing, jobs, transportation and access to medical care, to rank counties based on health outcomes.

The study found the burden of child care poses one of the greatest challenges to counties nationwide, and Missoula County is no exception.

In Montana, on average, households with two children are spending 31% of their total income on child care, according to the study. In Missoula, households spend an average 25% to 29% of their income on child care costs.

“When a single household expense consumes the majority of a paycheck, it becomes difficult to meet competing needs and can force households into tough decisions like choosing between quality child care, paying rent, and purchasing nutritious food,” the study said.

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