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ECSB Programs and Services


The Early Childhood Services Bureau has the following programs:


The Early Childhood Services Bureau receives the following grants:

  • The Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) assists Montana in improving the overall quality of child care services that support healthy development  and school readiness needs of children.
  • The Montana Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Grant is addressing the mitigation of toxic stress and trauma in infancy and early childhood. The key components of the grant include prevention, promotion, and intervention. 
  • The Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships Grant provides children and families with access to high-quality early learning experiences that support working families by providing a full-day, full-year program so that more vulnerable children have the healthy and enriching early experiences they need to realize their full potential.
  • The Montana Preschool Development Grant (MPDG) supports state and local efforts to build, develop, and expand High-Quality Preschool Programs so children from low-and moderate-income families enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and in life.
  • Montana Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) is funded by a federal grant received by DPHHS in September 2014. The goal is to engage Montana’s early childhood partners to improve systems and access to mental health services for young children and families in our rural state while piloting evidence-based practices in Gallatin and Park Counties.

Partners and Councils

  • The Early Childhood Services Bureau partners with Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to offer a variety of early care and education services.
  • The Early Childhood Services Bureau houses the Best Beginnings Advisory Council (BBAC). The BBAC serves as the comprehensive early childhood advisory council for Montana.
  • The Early Childhood Services Bureau contracts with the Montana Early Childhood Project (ECP) to manage the state’s early childhood Career Development System. The ECP is dedicated to improving the quality of programs and services for Montana’s young children and their families. The ECP is located at Montana State University-Bozeman in the Department of Health and Human Development. The ECP collaborates with many organizations and associations in Montana to enhance its ability to assist families and promote helpful programs and services statewide.
  • The Early Childhood Services Bureau collaborates with Child Care Licensing to support child care licensing requirements. The goal of the partnership between ECSB and Child Care Licensing is to ensure licensing standards and interpretation of rule meet the needs of child care providers as well as the STARS to Quality program. STARS to Quality works very closely with Child Care Licensing to ensure training requirements and criteria are complimentary and not duplicated potentially streamlining the process for licensing and STARS.

Other Programs and Services that Support Children and Families in Montana

Child & Family Services

The Child and Family Services Division (CFSD) is a part of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Mission Statement

Keeping Children Safe and Families Strong

Statement of Purpose

To protect children who have been or are at substantial risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment. We strive to assure that all children have a family who will protect them from harm. We recognize the protective capacities of families and incorporate them in assessments, decision making and actions with the goal of improving safety, permanency and well being for children. We encourage our communities to strengthen their prevention efforts and to share responsibility for the safety of its children and families.

Core Values

  1. Children have the right to grow and develop in safe and permanent family environments.
  2. The safety of children is dependent on the actions/omissions of adults.
  3. When families and communities collaborate, the possibility for success is increased.
  4. The safety of children in our care is dependent upon multi-level stewardship of human and financial resources.

Children's Mental Health Bureau

The Children’s Mental Health Bureau of the Developmental Services Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services administers state funded mental health services for children.

The mission of the Children's Mental Health Bureau is to support and strengthen Montana youth and families through Medicaid mental health services.

Their Vision is strong youth functioning in healthy families, living in supportive Montana communities.

Children's Special Health Services

Children's Special Health Services (CSHS) is charged by the Federal Maternal Child Health Bureau to: "Support development and implementation of comprehensive, culturally competent, coordinated systems of care for children and youth who have or are at risk for chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally."

Children's Special Health Services focuses on building, measuring, and monitoring a complex system of care for Children and Youth Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) with the following goals:

Goal: Assure Family Participation & Satisfaction
Family members, including those representative of the culturally diverse communities served, must have a meaningful, enduring, and leading role in the development of systems at all levels.

Goal: Access to Medical Home
CYSHCN have an identified source of ongoing routine health care in their community.

Goal: Support Early and Continuous Screening
Infants and children with high-risk health conditions must be identified early.

Goal: Adequate Insurance
CSHCN families have a way to pay for services. The state CHIP program can help address this need, but resources and partnerships with other programs to address under insurance and provide "wrap-around services" are needed.

Goal: Access to Community-based Systems of Care
A system of care must be organized in such a way that needs can be identified, and services provided, and that there are mechanisms to pay for them.

Goal: Facilitate Transition to Adulthood
Youth with special health care need, as adults, must be able to expect good health care, employment with benefits, and independence.

Children's Trust Fund

Children's Trust Fund image

Nurturing Children, Supporting Communities,
 Strengthening Families

We believe that Montana’s children are the state’s greatest assets. Today’s children are the leaders of tomorrow. We hold their future in our hands, and our future is in their hands.

Top priorities for Montana’s Children’s Trust Fund:

  • Funding effective, primary prevention programs in local communities throughout Montana and enhancing communities' capacity to prevent child abuse and neglect by allocating CTF funds annually for primary and secondary child abuse and neglect prevention programs to community-based organizations;
  • Supporting public education (such as conferences, workshops, and seminars) that increase participants' knowledge and understanding of child abuse and neglect prevention, and strengthening families and communities;
  • Promoting the five protective factors; and
  • Increasing positive parenting skills that ensure the health, safety and well-being of children.

Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Program

The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit provides comprehensive and preventive health care services for children under age 21 who are enrolled in Medicaid. EPSDT is made up of the following screening, diagnostic, and treatment services (this is a summarized list. For details on requirements please visit

  • Screening Services (health and development history, physical exam, immunizations, lead screening, health education)
  • Vision Services
  • Dental Services
  • Hearing Services
  • Other Necessary Health Care Services (It is the responsibility of states to determine medical necessity on a case-by-case basis.)
  • Diagnostic Services (When a screening examination indicates the need for further evaluation of an individual's health, diagnostic services must be provided.)
  • Treatment (Necessary health care services must be made available for treatment of all physical and mental illnesses or conditions discovered by any screening and diagnostic procedures)

Healthy Montana Families

Healthy Montana Families LogoHealthy Montana Families is a network of programs around the state that provide voluntary, family-centered services in the home to expectant families and families with new infants and young children.

What is home visiting?

Home visiting services support healthy pregnancy outcomes, child health and development, and strong parent-child relationships. Home visiting services build on parent and family strengths. Home visiting services are generally provided in the family’s home or wherever they are staying, and may also include opportunities for group connections and other community activities.

Professional, trained home visitors partner with parents and/or parents-to-be to meet the needs and goals of the family, connect the family to community resources, and promote the physical and emotional health of the child and family.

The home visiting models implemented in Montana as a part of the Healthy Montana Families are evidence-based, which means that research shows the models have positive outcomes for families. The models implemented in the state include:

Healthy Montana Kids (HMK)

Healthy Montana Kids (HMK), Children's Health Insurance Plan is just one of many Montana Healthcare Programs offering a free or low-cost health insurance plan which provides coverage to eligible Montana children up to age 19. Medical benefits are administered through the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Montana Provider Network, except for Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics and Community Based Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Support Services. Treatments and services must be medically necessary and the member must be enrolled at the time the service is delivered. Covered services include medical, dental, eyeglasses, and other related services.

HMK Member Contact Numbers

Public Assistance Helpline
(888) 706-1535

Medical Benefits
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana
(855) 258-3489

Pharmacy, Dental and Eyeglass Benefits
Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics and Community Based Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Support Services
Montana Healthcare Programs, Member Helpline
(800) 362-8312

Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)

IDEA - Building The Legacy of IDEA 2004

Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004Part B - ages 3-21 - Click Here to Enter Part C - ages birth-2 - Click Here to Enter

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.

Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B.

Low Income Energy Assistance

The State of Montana, through the Department of Public Health and Human Services, offers two programs aimed at helping low-income individuals reduce their heating costs.

The Weatherization Program helps participants to improve the heating efficiency of their homes and thus reduce their energy consumption. The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) pays part of winter energy bills for eligible people. Most utilities offer LIEAP recipients discounts on their bills.

Montana Immunization Program

The mission of the Montana Immunization Program is to prevent vaccine preventable disease among all residents throughout their life span by sharing information, managing data, providing education, giving guidance, and overseeing distribution of publicly-funded vaccines.

Comment BoxTo submit a question or comment to the Immunization Program, please click on the suggestion box to access the online form.

Montana Medicaid

Montana Medicaid and HMK Plus are healthcare benefits for eligible low-income Montanans. Montana Medicaid and HMK Plus pays for services that are:

  1. Medically necessary,
  2. Provided by a Montana Medicaid/HMK Plus enrolled provider, and
  3. Medicaid/HMK Plus covered services.

Montana Milestones

Montana Milestones is the Part C Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities, part of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The Mission of Early Intervention for Children with Disabilities:

Early intervention builds upon and provides supports and resources to assist family members and caregivers to enhance children’s learning and development through everyday learning opportunities.

Learn more about  guidance and forms related to the Montana Milestones Part C Early Interventions.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Montana’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is called TANF cash assistance, a welfare reform program that promotes the values of work, responsibility, and family. The MT Department of Public Health and Human Services is committed to the philosophy that public assistance is intended to provide temporary support to eligible individuals for the purpose of assisting them to reach economic self-support. The opportunity for self-support will be achieved through immediate employment, the vigorous pursuit of child support, and other alternatives to public assistance.

Temporary financial assistance may be provided to the following families and individuals:

  1. Minor Children;
  2. Specified relatives with whom the children are living;
  3. The minor children's blood-related/adoptive siblings with whom the children are living;
  4. Pregnant women in their last trimester who have no other eligible children; and
  5. Refugees with minor dependent children.

The receipt of TANF cash assistance is limited to 60 months in an adult's lifetime.

Women, Infants & Children (WIC)

WIC provides good food and a whole lot more!

WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. This public health program is designed to improve health outcomes and influence lifetime nutrition and health behaviors in a targeted, at-risk population. Nutrition education is the cornerstone of the WIC Program.

Wondering if you could be eligible for WIC?

Use this pre-screening tool to find out. This is not an application for WIC. You still need to visit your local WIC clinic to apply for WIC benefits. Please note, Montana WIC does not require proof of pregnancy.

Early Childhood Services Bureau Newsletters 

Spring 2015

Fall 2015

Civil Rights
If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of race, national origin, ethnic background, sex, religious affiliation, or disability, you have a right to file a complaint. To file a complaint of discrimination contact:
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
1961 Stout Street - Room 1426
Denver, CO 80294
(303) 844-2024; (303) 844-3439 (TDD)
toll free 1-866-239-0458
(303) 844-2025 FAX
Patty Butler, Chief
DPHHS - Early Childhood Services Bureau
P.O. Box 202925
Helena MT 59620-2925