St. Peter's Health Acquires Creative Horizons Learning Center with Plans to Expand Child Care Options for Employees

September 6, 2022

St. Peter's Health announced today the purchase of Creative Horizons Learning Center, a Helena child care center located at 3430 Ptarmagin Lane near the health system's North Clinic and Physical Rehabilitation North Clinic. St. Peter’s plans to expand the operation to serve the needs of more employees in need of child care, and is also in conversations with the Board of Directors and local contractors to prepare for an expansion of Pete’s Place, the existing on-campus child care facility.

According to CEO Wade Johnson, St. Peter’s is making the strategic decision to invest in child care for numerous reasons, most notably to improve the health and wellbeing of its 1,700 staff and the greater Helena community.

"We know from listening to our team members that access to high quality child care is a challenge in our community, and St. Peter’s is committed to being part of the solution. Not only will expanding child care options help us recruit and retain staff, the peace of mind we can offer because our employees know their children are safe and well cared for is very important to us as a people-first organization.”

Under new ownership, the early childhood learning and development center will be called Peter’s Place North and all 17 of the former Creative Horizons staff members were invited to continue to serve at this location. St. Peter’s also welcomed all 55 children who were receiving care at Creative Horizons to transition their care to Pete’s Place until they are old enough to attend kindergarten. This fall, the health system intends to open additional classrooms at the newly acquired facility opening 45 child care spots for its employees after renovations are complete.

A 2021 Harvard Business Review survey of 2,500 working parents found that 20% had to leave work or reduce their work hours solely due to a lack of childcare.

"By expanding Creative Horizons and investing in the future expansion of Pete’s Place, we’re not only addressing the needs of our employees, we’re also increasing the availability of child care at other community-based providers as our staff transfer their care," said Johnson. “Many of our employees have spouses who work for other organizations locally, or who might even consider going back to work if quality child care was available. We see this as a positive for our staff and our community in terms of addressing both the child care and workforce shortages.”

Creative Horizons and Pete's Place both participate in the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Stars to Quality Program, a quality rating improvement system that supports early childhood education programs in continuous quality improvement. St. Peter’s also recently began spearheading the local Early Childhood Coalition which is a community impact project focused on addressing early childhood programming in Lewis and Clark County.

According to St. Peter’s Program Director of Childcare Brandie Lorenz, “we know that the early years are essential to a child's overall and future health and wellbeing, and this is just one more way St. Peter’s can positively impact our community’s health and wellness by investing in the next generation." 

Helena resident and outgoing Creative Horizons Learning Center owner Ann Lynch selected St. Peter's to assume ownership of her center upon retirement after a thirty-five-year career serving area families. "My main priority has always been to sell to someone who would continue my legacy of offering high-quality child care, and I am pleased to say that St. Peter's shares this desire and focus," said Lynch. "The similarities between Pete's Place and Creative Horizons make this a natural transition, and I couldn't be more pleased with how they're taking care of my families and staff."

St. Peter’s was recently awarded one million dollars from the State of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services for Phase 1 of its proposed expansion of its existing Pete’s Place child care facility. St. Peter's has operated the on-site, employee-only child care center on its main campus near the Regional Medical Center since 1986. The organization looks forward to providing more information on this future expansion once it concludes the preliminary review and determines a final project scope and timeline.