STARS Preschool

Increasing access to high quality preschool for 4 and 5 year old children in MontanaSTARS Preschool

Year One STARS Preschool Evaluation Report

The STARS Preschool Pilot Project Announces an Addition to the STARS Preschool Awardees

Congratulations, Wibaux Public School!

The selection committee made up of representatives from the Governor’s Office, Legislature, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, public education and early childhood education experts reviewed another round of applications submitted from northern and eastern Montana and selected Wibaux Public School as the 18th STARS Preschool program.  Wibaux will join 17 programs from a variety of facility types providing high quality preschool in their respective communities.

Governor Bullock worked with the 2017 Montana Legislature to secure $6 million over the next two years to expand educational services for Montana’s four- and five-year-olds. Funding for the pilot was included in House Bill 639 and passed with bipartisan support.

“More Montana kids will now have even greater opportunities growing up here than the generations before them,” said Governor Bullock. “This investment helps our families, it helps our kids get off to a bright start, and it helps our economy. We’re finally making this long-awaited investment, and by doing so, building a stronger future for Montana.”   

STARS Preschool Current Grantees

Governor Bullock Announces Preschool Opportunities in Communities Across Montana

  • Alberton Public School, Alberton, MT
  • Head Start, Inc., Billings, MT
  • Discovery Place Child Care, Bozeman, MT
  • Stepping Stones Preschool, Dillon, MT
  • Eastgate Elementary, East Helena Public Schools Dist. 9, East Helena, MT
  • ABC Academy, Helena, MT
  • Helena Public Schools Montessori-Hawthorne, Helena, MT
  • Early Childhood Center at Flathead Valley Community College, Kalispell, MT
  • Small Wonder Child Care Inc., Lewistown, MT
  • Lockwood School District, Lockwood, MT
  • Lolo School District/Lolo Preschool and Child Care, Lolo, MT
  • Marion School District 54, Marion, MT
  • Cherry Valley Elementary, Polson School District #23, Polson, MT
  • Beartooth Children’s Center, Red Lodge, MT
  • Ronan School District No. 30, Ronan, MT
  • Kountry Kare, Shepherd, MT
  • Troy Public School, Troy, MT
  • Wibaux Public School, Wibaux, MT

What is STARS Preschool?

STARS Preschool supports programs serving 4 and 5 year old children in a preschool setting.

  • The funding is dedicated to increase access to preschool for 4 and 5 year olds
  • Programs will include multiple delivery models, including
    • Public programs;
    • Private programs; and
    • Mixed-delivery programs through public-private partnerships
  • Programs will be located both in rural and urban areas of Montana
  • Program standards will align with Best Beginnings STARS to Quality, Head Start, and Title 10 Chapter 63 public preschool program standards


All programs must meet applicable STARS preschool health and safety standards

  • Public Schools. Kindergarten I programs are ineligible. Existing preschool programs, including special education-funded programs and classrooms may be eligible, but funds cannot be used to supplant special education funding.
  • Any Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program at 3 STARS or higher and with dedicated preschool classrooms or services for 4 year olds.  Program must maintain compliance with STARS level 3 or higher as well.  Child Care Programs who would like to apply for STARS Preschool and who are not currently enrolled in the Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program, can demonstrate that they meet STAR 3 and lower criteria and enroll in Best Beginnings STARS to Quality simultaneously, but must follow rules of both programs.   
  • Head Start Programs (funds could be used to expand but cannot be used to supplant existing federal funding)
  • Private preschool providers and schools
  • Community Based programs
  • Military Programs
  • Tribal Programs / Classrooms
  • Montana Preschool Development Grant classrooms are ineligible

Pursuant to Article X of the Montana Constitution, sectarian (faith-based) programs are not eligible for funding.

Contact Us:
Jill Christensen, STARS Preschool Early Education Specialist
Email for STARS Preschool