Raising Arms


Kindergarten Classroom
The Early Childhood Services Bureau (ECSB) within the Early Childhood and Family Support Division of DPHHS focuses on supporting the early childhood system in Montana. ECSB's mission is to improve the quality, affordability and accessibility of early care and education in Montana. Within ECSB there is the Montana Child Care Licensing Program which regulates, monitors, and establishes health and safety guidelines for child care providers in Montana. 

The Best Beginnings STARS to Quality program (STARS) is a quality rating improvement system developed by the State of Montana that aligns quality indicators with support and incentives for early childhood programs and professionals. STARS is a continuous quality improvement model in which the quality of the overall program is continually being evaluated for quality improvement. There are five STAR levels in addition to an initial participant level. Child care programs may move up in STAR levels by meeting identified standards of quality.


The Butte 4-C's offers the Provider Financial Assistance Program (PFAP). PFAP is offered based on available funding. Funds can be used for the purposes of:

Start Up Funds
  • New programs to become fully registered/licensed through the State of Montana; or programs that have become registered/licensed within 6 months of grant application.
  • Licensing compliance such as balance of funds needed for fencing, egress windows, indoor/outdoor equipment, materials, etc.
  • Business equipment such as a computer, printer, and/or software to manage CACFP claims and customer billing, or Sign In/Sign out/Immunization tracking software
Infant Toddler Expansion Funds
  • Licensed/Registered programs expanding the number of slots for Infants and/or Toddlers, ages 0-36 months. These funds must be specific to materials, additional space to serve these age groups, or to address staff needs to support the expansion.
Emergency/Natural Disaster Funds
  • Licensed/Registered programs that have experienced an emergency or have health and safety concerns that could affect their ability to provide care.
Funds cannot be used for the following:
  • Liability or home/renter’s insurance
  • Non-childcare specific items for the program
  • Training costs



Montana Association for the Education of Young Children

The Montana Association for the Education of Young Children is a collaborative professional organization intent on impacting local, state, and national issues affecting children, families and early care and education.
Montana AEYC is a growing membership organization of professionals that advocates for the early childhood workforce, quality care and education for young children and families; and provides leadership and professional development opportunities for the early care and education community.

Montana AEYC values: young children and their families, early care and education professionals, and initiatives and programs that promote healthy growth, development and education. The Montana AEYC has 10 chapters. For more information please visit their website at www.mtaeyc.org.

Montana Child Care Association

The Montana Child Care Association (MtCCA) was formed in 1975 by a group of child care providers to strengthen and safeguard the child care industry in Montana. They are a non-profit organization of child care programs in our state. MtCCA is also a member of the National Association of Family Child Care. The purpose of the Montana Child Care Association is to provide educational opportunities that foster the growth and development of early childhood professionals, focusing on private providers of child care services to enhance the quality of care and educate young children and their families. MtCCA has eight chapters. For more information please visit their Facebook page.

National Association for the Education of Young Children

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research. 

National Association for Family Child Care

The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) is a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to promoting high quality child care by strengthening the profession of family child care.