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With the recent boom in distance learning due to COVID-19 came increased interest in at-home schooling and childcare. That’s something MyVillage has done for years.

“We’ve seen a ton of increase in interest in what we were doing,” said MyVillage co-founder and CEO Erica Mackey. “An incredible increase in demand, both on the supply side where people want to start schools, but also on the demand side where families obviously are not comfortable sending their kids to large centers.”

MyVillage franchises independently owned, small in-home child care and education facilities in Montana and Colorado. But the massive increase in the number of kids learning from home at least a few days a week gave it the opportunity to create a national subscription-based program, different from its Montana and Colorado programs.

“Our core model has really been opening up MyVillage home-based schools,” Mackey said. “We have opened up a support platform for a flat-fee membership to have members nationwide be able to access 24/7 support.”

The new service gives members interested in opening an at-home learning pod for elementary-aged kids and below access to a network of other early childhood educators. The service also includes a variety of resources on everything from proper licensing and insurance to templates for lesson plans.

“Whether you’re a teacher, a tutor, a stay-at-home mom running an informal support system for your kids and potentially your neighbor’s kids, it opens up a huge support system for them,” Mackey said.

MyVillage partnered with another Bozeman company, NextStep, to create the new program. NextStep uses an online platform to help users complete coursework and become certified in a variety of health care roles, including certified nursing assistants.

Members will also have access to a COVID-19 safety training, intended to guide educators on ways to keep their homes and programs clean and safe for the kids they care for. The training is led by Dr. Vin Gupta and, when members complete it, they’ll receive an official certification from MyVillage.

The new program doesn’t change any operations for MyVillage home schools operating in Montana and Colorado, Mackey said, except for providing even more resources to the educators running those schools.

“They’re getting much more comprehensive support through running a MyVillage program, so it gives them access to a much larger community of peers,” she said. “They still get the premium support services that we offer in the two states that we work in.”

Additional information on membership to the new program can be found on MyVillage’s website, myvillage.com.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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