A Grant to Grow and Strengthen Montana's Early Childhood System

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services was awarded a $24 million federal grant provided by the Administration for Children and Families. The Preschool Development Grant Renewal will provide the state with approximately $8 million per year for three years (2023–2025) plus state matching funds, to include subgrants to local communities to support child care infrastructure.

DPHHS launched Montana Bright Futures Birth to Five (BF B-5), a continuation of the previous Strengthening Montana’s Early Childhood System Project which began in 2019. The 2023-2025 BF B-5 project will continue its focus on developing the state’s comprehensive early childhood system.

Find out more about BF B-5, partners, activities, documents, past awards, and grant resources.


Programs and Incentives

Child Care Assistance for Child Care Workers Scholarship

Are you a parent or guardian working in child care and need assistance paying for your own child/children's care? Watch the video below or read the program flyer to see if you qualify. Then, complete the Child Care Assistance application to be considered for this incentive program!


Grant Information

State Press Release


Crisis Child Care Centers - Nonstop Local ABC Fox
DPHHS said it anticipates the universal home visiting program and the crisis child centers will be two of approximately 10 other strategies...

State Announces $24M Investment- NBC Montana
The project is designed to increase access to quality child care, promote healthy families and address child care workforce staffing...

Universal Home Visiting - The Livingston Enterprise
State Health Department to receive $24 million in federal funds for childcare services...

Activity 1: Needs Assessment

Montana’s comprehensive statewide needs assessment analyzed early childhood system strengths and gaps related to access, quality, workforce, coordination, family engagement, and governance.

Strengthening Montana's Early Childhood System: A Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment

Activity 2: Strategic Plan

The strategic plan was developed May—July 2019, with a significant focus on engaging family and provider voices throughout the process.  Montana’s early childhood strategic plan reflects the state’s approach to implementing a five-year effort toward strengthening the state’s early childhood system, with a focus on enhancing its early care and education mixed delivery system for children birth through five, particularly for vulnerable children.  

Strengthening Montana's Early Childhood System: Strategic Plan

Activity 3: Maximizing Family Choice and Knowledge

Families are children’s first and most important teachers.  Montana wants to empower families to nurture their children’s learning and development across the early childhood system.  Family engagement strategies include:

  • Further defining family engagement.
  • Improved, culturally competent information sharing about ECE.
  • Investing in family engagement coordinators in local early childhood coalitions.
  • Improving early childhood resource and referral processes.
  • Increased screening for social-emotional health.

Activity 4: Sharing Best Practices among State ECE and Education Providers

The quality of education and care Montana’s children receive is largely dependent on the quality of the state’s ECE workforce and the early childhood system supporting them.  Montana is using this grant to strategically invest in professional development and capacity building for early childhood system providers so they can excel in their work.  The state is approaching this activity of sharing best practices among state ECE providers through three primary strategies:

  • Sharing best practices across the early childhood system.
  • ECE provider professional development.
  • ECE targeted learning communities. 

Activity 5: Improving Overall Quality of ECE Programs, Providers, and Services

Montana is approaching this activity of improving the overall quality of ECE programs, providers, and services through four primary strategic areas of focus:

  • Increasing early childhood system coordination and collaboration.
  • Improving data systems.
  • Increasing ECE system capacity to improve access and quality for underserved populations and regions.
  • Improving school readiness and transitions. 


PDG B-5 is a competitive federal grant program established in December 2015 as part of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

History of PDG Funding in Montana:

Montana received its first Preschool Development Grant in 2014 in the amount of $10,000,000 per year for four years. This grant was Preschool focused and allowed Montana to increase Preschool slots in school districts and Head Start programs, increase workforce, develop infrastructure and site capacity and more. OPI was the lead on the grant and partnered closely with DPHHS.

In 2019, DPHHS applied for and received the Preschool Development Planning Grant Birth to Five, a $6 million infrastructure grant to develop the early childhood system. Out of this grant came the Early Childhood and Family Support Division, ParentingMontana.org as well as an extensive needs assessment and strategic plan used to inform ARPA work in Montana.

In 2019, DPHHS applied for the very competitive Preschool Development Grant Birth to Five Renewal and was not successful.  Many projects and processes listed in the grant have moved forward with ARPA and other funding.

Finally, in 2022, DPHHS wrote for and received a second round PDG B-5 Renewal Grant to continue the work of the planning grant from 2019. This grant is in its first year of implementation.

Grant Activities

  • Update needs assessment
  • Revise strategic planning
  • Maximize parent and family engagement
  • Support the early childhood workforce and disseminate best practices
  • Support overall quality improvement systems
  • Enhance quality and expand access to existing and new programs
  • Monitor, evaluate, and use data for continuous improvement


Desired Outcomes

  • Montana’s families with young children have increased access to, and participation in high quality early care and education across a mixed delivery system
  • Montana’s early childhood workforce is confident and effective, due to enhanced ECE professional development
  • The early childhood system is coordinated to support effective family assessment, system navigation, care coordination, and use of data
  • Montana’s families are engaged and valued as partners in the early childhood system
  • Montana’s communities make early childhood a priority, and act to support children’s health, learning, and well-being
  • Montana’s early childhood system is structured to support policy alignment, strategic financing, continuous improvement, and accountability


Montana believes strong collaboration is essential to success. In writing the Bright Futures B-5 Grant, the state renewed its commitment to hear from and work with a variety of stakeholders, including families, and private and governmental partners.

Below is a list of stakeholders engaged in the grant writing process and who signed a letter of commitment. We are excited to galvanize current and new stakeholders in the work needed to accomplish grant objectives.

  • Child and Family Services Division (CFSD)
  • Department of Labor and Industry (DLI)
  • Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB)
  • Montana Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR) agencies
  • Montana Early Childhood Advisory Council (MECAC)
  • Montana Early Childhood Project (ECP)
  • Montana Head Start Association (HSA)
  • Montana Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program
  • The Office of Public Instruction (OPI)
  • Raise Montana
  • Zero to Five Montana



Do you have a question or comment about the Montana Bright Futures Birth to Five Project? Click here to submit your question and it will be shared with the BF-B5 staff.