Montana’s Early Childhood and Family Support Division

Infrastructure to Support Early Childhood Systems

  • Administrative + Governance Models


Launched in 2020, Montana’s Early Childhood and Family Support Division in the Department of Public Health and Human Services brings together the states’ Child Care and Development Fund, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part C, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Head Start Collaboration Office, and Early Learning Advisory Council. The Early Childhood Services Bureau’s mission is to improve the quality, affordability, and accessibility of early care and education in Montana, with a focus on creating coordinated systemsCoordination Model: In most states, programmatic authority for early childhood is spread across multiple agencies that are expected to collaborate with each other, often through formal structures. This is the most prevalent approach to early childhood governance and may occur in many ways such as through formal agreements across agencies, a governor’s coordinating office, and/or a children’s cabinet. that meet the needs of young children, their families, and the professionals who serve them.

Sources: Montana Early Childhood and Family Support Division (2023) 
Bipartisan Policy Center (2023). Integrated Efficient Early Care and Education Systems

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

Strong infrastructure and systems – including governance structures and data systems – are key aspects of high-quality early education and care. And research suggests there is a need for more accessible, affordable, and high-quality early education within a mixed-delivery system; strengthening infrastructure and systems is one important way states and cities can take action to address these needs and accomplish these goals.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) that connect to the need for more robust infrastructure and systems, including data systems:

  • Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
  • But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.
  • No one early education setting type is inherently of higher quality than another; children develop and learn well in every setting type, and in the study, all setting types showed room to grow in quality.
  • We have learned a great deal from this groundbreaking, large-scale study. Nevertheless, there is still much to learn about what children, families, and educators need, and about what “works” – for whom and under what circumstances – across all the diverse settings where young children learn and grow.


Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Montana

Context matters. Visit the Montana profile page to learn more about its demographics, political landscape, early education programs, early education workforce, and funding sources and streams.

Visit the Montana Profile Here
  • The state popoulation is 1,122,867
  • The number of children age 0-4 is 58,251
  • The rural percentage is 46.6%