Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Annual Training and Practitioner Registry

When counting my 16 hours of annual training, should I use the facility’s expiration date or my ECP Practitioner Registry (PR) level expiration date?

Use your personal PR level expiration date to determine when your annual training needs to be complete. This ensures that your professional development follows you if you move to a different facility. If you are associated to more than one facility at the same time, you will not have to try to fit your training into a “time window” based on the facility’s expiration date.

When I renew this year, how many hours of training will I have to have?

Facilities expiring on or after July 31, 2018 will need to have all staff added to the Practitioner Registry by the time the facility renews.

  • This includes extended facilities that have July expiration dates even if they do not expire this year.
  • For facilities that have expiration dates between now and July 2018 licensing will continue to look for 8 hours of training as before.

When do I have to have my 16 hours of annual training completed by?

The training must be complete by the time your Practitioner Registry Level expires each year.

Who will be required to participate on the Practitioner Registry?

Staff that are counted in ratios and provide care to children.

Who will be exempt from participation on the Practitioner Registry?

Staff that work less than 500 hours per year will be exempt. Also, staff that work at facilities that are only approved to provide care to children ages 5 and up (ie: after school programs).

How much does it cost to participate on the Practitioner Registry?

The fee is waived until September 1, 2018. After that the fee will be $10 per year.

What are the benefits of participating on the Practitioner Registry?

Participation in the Montana Practitioner Registry will help you:

  • Count yourself as a professional in early childhood services in Montana.
  • Inform parents about your level of professional development as you make decisions about your fees for early care and education services.
  • Apply for new employment positions in early childhood programs or negotiate for a salary increase with your employer.
  • Validate and document the learning and training experiences in which you have participated.
  • Plan your future education and career goals.
  • Become eligible for incentives, awards, scholarships and grants.

Why is the department requiring participation in the Practitioner Registry for licensure?

In addition to the benefits listed above, the department is federally monitored and must now track and report professional development training to the Federal Office of Child Care. Per new CCDF requirements, Montana must show that the 13 categories of health and safety training are completed within 90 days and that annual health and safety training is completed by all child care staff in our state. Developing a new system to track this information for reporting would cost providers a great deal more than using an existing and well-developed tracking system like ECP. The department is confident this method poses the smallest financial burden for child care owners and staff.

Who should pay the application fees for the Practitioner Registry?

Facilities have the option. Many different programs have handled payments for these things in different ways. It comes down to how you decide to handle it in your program management. Some programs put it in their budget to pay for the fees, others require it as a condition of employment and have the individuals pay for the fees, and still yet others reimburse the fee after a certain amount of time employed.

What if I do not qualify for the Practitioner Registry because I do not have a GED or Hi-Set?

Everyone will be accepted at the membership level for the first year. After that, exemptions for existing child care professionals can be considered under special circumstances.


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Blankets for Sleeping Infants

As you may know, new changes to Montana rules now prohibit the use of blankets for infants under 12 months old.

Montana ARMs are guided by Caring for our Children National Health and Safety Performance Standard Guidelines for Child Care Facilities.
g) Soft or loose bedding should be kept away from sleeping infants and out of safe sleep environments. These include, but are not limited to: bumper pads, pillows, quilts, comforters, sleep positioning devices, sheepskins, blankets, flat sheets, cloth diapers, bibs, etc. Also, blankets/items should not be hung on the sides of cribs. Loose or ill-fitting sheets have caused infants to be strangled or suffocated (2).
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When will I have to stop using light-weight blankets for infants?

If you care for infants that are accustomed to sleeping with a light-weight blanket, you may continue to use a light-weight blanket for those infants until February 1, 2019. These blankets should be no heavier than a receiving blanket. New infants coming into the facility should be started without a blanket or should be started with a sleep sack that does not restrict the infant’s arms.

How will I provide comfort and warmth to sleeping infants?

The department encourages the use of sleep sacks that do not constrict the infant’s arms. Infants should wear clothing that is warm enough for their environment but not too warm. Caring for our children guidelines warn against allowing infants to become too warm while sleeping.

(7) All pillows, quilts, comforters, heavy blankets, sheepskins, bumper pads, stuffed toys, and other soft products must be removed from the crib and play pen when an infant is laid down for sleep.
(a) Blankets of any weight must be removed when infants 12 months of age or under are laid down for sleep.
(b) Sleep sacks and similar safe sleep clothing may be used if the item does not restrict the infant's arms.
(c) Infants under 3 months of age may only be swaddled if medical documentation from a health care provider is on file at the facility.
(d) Infants over 3 months of age must not be swaddled.

CCL only - Will there be an option to waive this rule for an infant or facility?

Facilities that submit a written request may receive a conditional waiver for ARM 37.95.1005 (7)(a). The written request must:

  • include the basis for request such as significant hardship to the infants;
  • propose an alternative that is consistent with best practices in early childhood standards;
  • demonstrate that blankets used are light-weight and used in a way that meets the intent of the rule;
  • demonstrate that infants are directly observed by sight and sound during naptime. Lighting and location of the nap area must allow staff to have the ability to see and move a blanket if an infant becomes tangled or if the blanket covers the head.
  • agree to have each parent sign a form or policy stating that they are aware of national recommendations regarding blankets, aware that blankets of any weight can pose a strangulation or suffocation hazard, and allow the facility to use a light-weight blanket.
  • The facility has shown continuous compliance with safe sleep deficiencies.
  • A department signed copy of waiver terms must be posted by infant sleep area.


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Teacher Orientation Training

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What courses are required?

The following courses are required for orientation:

Within 30 days of hire:

  • PR/First Aid Certification – hands on/in person
  • Infant Safety Essentials (formerly Safe Sleep & Shaken Baby Syndrome) - online @

Within 90 days hire:

  • Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases & Immunizations training - online
  • Medication Administration in Child Care Part I training - online
  • YIKES Disaster Planning -Emergency Preparedness training - online
  • Protecting Children from Harm Training - online
  • Child Abuse & Neglect: Mandatory Reporting in Child Care training - online
  • Together We Grow - online
  • Early Childhood Essentials – in person at local R & R

Who is required to take teacher orientation training?

All staff in family/group, and center child care facilities that are counted in ratios and provide direct care to children. This means all new and existing Early Childhood Teachers including Lead Teachers, Assistant Teachers, Directors, and Substitute Teachers regardless of the number of hours per year.

  • Does not include foster-grandparents if they are not providing direct care or counted in ratios.
  • Does not include staff that provide specialty services to children but are not counted in ratios.

Are there exemptions?

The following exemptions apply:
  • Teachers who completed the 3-hour Health and Safety Overview are deemed to have completed this requirement.
  • Teachers who completed all orientation courses before February 12, 2018 are deemed to have completed this requirement.
  • The Infant Safety Essentials course is not required for staff that work at facilities that provide care exclusively to children age 5 and over.

If I completed Safe Sleep before February 12, 2018 but I did not complete Shaken Baby Syndrome before February 12, 2018 do I need to take Infant Safety Essentials?


If I completed both Safe Sleep & Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma before February 12, 2018, am I required to take Infant Safety Essentials?

No. However, the department encourages all staff to take the new course as there have been updates to the information. This course can be counted towards annual training hours.

If I completed the 16 hours of orientation offered before February 12, 2018, do I need to take “Together We Grow” and “Early Childhood Essentials”?

No. However, the department encourages all teaching staff to take these courses. These courses can be counted towards annual training hours.

If I have not completed my orientation, may I be left alone with children?

Staff must complete the 30-day orientation courses before they may be left alone in a room with the children in care. This means CPR/First aid and Infant Safety Essentials.

Why is the department requiring Infant Safety Essentials for teachers at facilities that are not approved to care for children under 2?

Some of the information in the shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma information applies to children over 2.