Contact Us

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

111 N. Jackson
Arcade Building, 5th Floor
P.O. Box 202925
Helena, MT 59620-2925

Early Childhood Services Bureau: (406) 444-1788
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

Rebecca Phillips, Budget Analyst

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

Sally Tilleman, Early Learning and School Readiness Manager
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

Brooke Pickett, CACFP Program Manager
Vacant, Program Specialist
Vacant, Program Specialist
Pam Barragato, Program Specialist

Child Care Policy Unit

Child Care Policy Unit Staff

Jody Lehman, CCDF Program Manager
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

Sally Tilleman, Early Learning and School Readiness Manager
Deborah Richert, Regional Specialist


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, LAUNCH Young Child Wellness Expert (YCWE)

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 include multiple delivery models, including
    • Public programs;
    • Private programs; and
    • Mixed-delivery programs through public-private partnerships
  • Programs are located both in rural and urban areas of Montana
  • Program standards align with Best Beginnings STARS to Quality, Head Start, and Title 10 Chapter 63 public preschool program standards

STARS Preschool Staff

Jill Christensen, Early Education Specialist