Contact Us

Department of Public Health and Human Services - Early Childhood Services Bureau

PO Box 4210
Helena, MT 59601

Early Childhood Services Bureau:
Child Care Unit: (866) 239-0458
CACFP: (888) 307-9333

The Mission of the Early Childhood Services Bureau is to improve the quality, affordability and accessibility of early care and education in Montana, with focused efforts on coordinated systems to best meet the needs of young children, their families, and the professionals who work on behalf of young children and families.


Staff Contact Information

Patty Butler, ECSB Bureau Chief

Brooke Pickett, CACFP Program Manager

Jody Lehman, CCDF Program Manager

Rebecca Phillips, Budget Analyst

Sally Tilleman, Early Learning and School Readiness Manager

Best Beginnings STARS to Quality

The Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program is a voluntary quality rating improvement system that aligns quality indicators with support and incentives for early childhood programs and early childhood professionals.

Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Staff

Rhonda Schwenke, Best Beginnings Lead Specialist
Shandi Hayes, Best Beginnings Specialist

Child and Adult Care Food Program

The CACFP supports child care businesses by providing assistance with child nutrition, food service management, and reimbursement for meals served.

Child and Adult Care Food Program Staff

Janene Shepherd, Program Specialist
Kelly Aughney, Program Specialist
Pam Barragato, Program Specialist

Child Care Policy Unit

Child Care Policy Unit Staff

Sarah Adams, CCDF Project Specialist
Allison Drake, Compliance Reviewer
Chauntel Lucier, Child Care Resource & Referral Program Specialist
Melody Olson, Management Analyst

Montana Head Start Collaboration Office

The Head Start Collaboration Office facilitates collaboration among Head Start agencies (including Early Head Start agencies) and entities that carry out activities designed to benefit low income children from birth to school entry, and their families.

Montana Head Start Collaboration Office Staff

Kathy Rich, Montana Head Start Collaboration Director

Montana Preschool Development Grant

The purpose of the Montana Preschool Development Grant is to build, develop, and expand high-quality preschool programs so that more children from low-and moderate-income families enter ready to succeed in kindergarten and in life. This grant is supported in partnership between MT Department of Public Health and Human Services and the MT Office of Public Instruction.

Montana Preschool Development Grant Staff

Brandi Loch, Family Engagement and Coaching Coordinator

Deborah Richert, Regional Specialist

MT Project LAUNCH

The purpose of Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) is to promote the wellness of young children ages birth to 8 by addressing the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of their development.

MT Project LAUNCH Staff

Darla Dexter, Early Childhood Health and Wellness Specialist

Strengthening Montana's Early Childhood System Project

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services launched the Strengthening Montana’s Early Childhood System Project in 2019 through a Preschool Development Birth through Five (PDG B-5) grant from the Administration for Children and Families.  The Strengthening Montana’s Early Childhood System Project is focused on developing the state’s comprehensive early childhood system to enhance early learning and development, family support and engagement, and health to move the state toward its vision of all children having the skills and knowledge they need to reach their full potential in life.

Strengthening Montana's Early Childhood System Project Staff

Brandi Loch, Family Engagement and Coaching Coordinator

Jill Christensen, Early Education and Coaching Specialist