Child Care in Montana

Welcome Families. Child care can be a challenge. We have the programs, resources, and information you need to feel confident making the right child care decisions for your family. Follow this link for a full list of resources for families or use the navigation bar on the right!

FIND CHILD CARE

Everything you need to find affordable, safe, and quality childcare near you lives here! Explore and make your own child care decisions using the tools below or connect with a referral agency who can walk you through the process of finding child care.

Child Care Provider Search

This is a handy tool. Use it to search for specific child care providers in your area. Click on the name or address of a provider you are interested in to find inspection reports and potential complaints filed.

Child Care Providers Dashboard

Like maps? This tool provides an easy way to find child care providers using a map of Montana (does not provide inspection results).

Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies

Resource and referral agencies are like your personal helper when it comes to finding the most affordable and quality option for you in your area. Contact your regional office today for a friendly conversation about your child's care.

RAISE Montana

RAISE Montana is a families best friend when it comes to information and resources for your child. RAISE will provide you with excellent customer support in navigating child care decisions.

PAY FOR CHILD CARE

It can feel like the cost of care for your child keeps going up. The State is making significant investments in child care to make it more affordable for working families in Montana. If you have difficulty paying for child care or are interested in learning about 

Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship Program

You may be eligible for a child care scholarship if your child is enrolled at qualifying provider. Click the link above to learn more about the program and if you qualify. Information includes types of eligible care, copayments rates, eligibility criteria, and program benefits. If you would like to apply to the program directly click Apply Online or download the Application.

Head Start

Head Start agencies operate in many communities throughout Montana. They exist to provide a learning environment that supports children's growth in many areas such as language, literacy, and social and emotional development.

To apply for Head Start and Early Head Start, contact the program serving your community using the Head Start Locator tool below. Your local program will provide the required forms and answer your questions. They will also tell you what documents you should bring with you to apply.

Head Start Locator Tool

QUALITY CHILD CARE

You may not know what makes for a quality child care program. We can help! When you are looking for quality child care there are a few things you should look for.

  • Effective teachers and leaders
  • Engaged families
  • Supportive instructional environment
  • Safe and secure business practices
  • Educated and highly trained staff

It can be difficult to commit to a child care provider. The Best Beginnings STARS State program manages a system of quality and safety standards so you can feel confident in the quality of care you will receive. STARS supports high quality early care and education programs in your community. The program rates providers on a scale of 1-5 stars.

To learn more about quality programs in your community use the Interactive Map or open a List of Providers by City.

CHILD CARE LICENSING BASICS

Are you curious how the state ensures your child can safely attend child care? Montana's Child Care Licensing Program regulates and monitors child care facilities. The Program establishes guidelines for the health, safety and well-being of the children in these facilities. Surveys are conducted annually and all complaints are investigated so you can feel confident in your options.

How do licensing, inspections, and background checks work to make child care safe for my kid?

  • State Licensing of Child Care: Providers can apply online to become licensed. Providers who become licensed commit to minimum health and safety standards, emergency plans and many other important regulations set by the state and health officials. Montana's licensing rules that can be found here.

  • Monitoring and Inspection. The state employs on average 12 inspectors who visit licensed child care providers to report on the health and safety standards. Again, you can find provider inspection reports here.

  • Background Checks: What are they? Background checks investigate a person's personal, professional, and criminal history to verify their suitability to become a child care worker.

    Why They Matter: Background checks are a foundational step in ensuring the safety and well-being of the your child while in care. Screening potential employees and volunteers helps identify any past criminal history, including offenses that may pose a risk to your child. This proactive approach promotes a secure environment for your child to learn and grow.

    Process: All individuals looking to work at a child care facility must first undergo multiple background checks. This process includes a check of the Montana Sex Offender Registry and the national Sexual Offender Registry, a child protective services check, and name-based criminal records check for Montana and any state where the individual has resided in the preceding five years. Checks are updated annually.

    The offenses that prevent someone from being employed by a child care provider, becoming a provider, or receiving CCDF funds can be found here.

  • Complaints: To file a complaint about a Montana child care provider please use this online form. A witness or someone who has first-hand knowledge of the abuse must make the complaint.

Visit Child Care Licensing to learn more about the child care licensing program in Montana.

 

CHILD GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT

You know better than anyone the importance of raising a healthy child. Childhood growth and development includes a variety of physical and cognitive milestones that effect your child's wellbeing. Learn how you can access developmental screening resources to support your child. Included is information for parents regarding children with disabilities.

Child Growth and Development

Learn about developmental screening resources including Home Visiting programs to assist in your child's development.

Montana Milestones Part C

Read about early intervention services and supports for young children who have significant developmental delays or disabilities.

Milestone Tracker App

Learn about the natural growth of your child and track they progress in achieving developmental milestones with this slick app available on IOS and Android.

CONTACT STATE CHILD CARE PROGRAMS

For general questions about child care services in Montana contact:

Jill Christensen | 406-444-0309 | Early Childhood Services Bureau Chief

For information about quality in child care and the training of child care staff contact: 

Sally Tilleman | 406-444-2789 | Early Learning and School Readiness Program Manager

For questions concerning child care policies, licensing, or the best beginnings scholarship contact:

Jody Lehman | 406-444-3928 | Child Care Bureau Chief

For questions about Montana Head Start contact:

Mark Douglass | 406-444-4168 | Montana Head Start Collaboration Director

FRAUD & SAFETY

Fraud
If you suspect fraud or misuse of funds in conjunction with Child Care funds consider 
being a part of the solution. Your claims may remain anonymous.

Submit allegations by filling out the Report Child Care Fraud Form.

Civil Rights
If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of race, national origin, ethnic background, sex, religious affiliation, or disability, you have a right to file a complaint. To file a complaint of discrimination contact:

Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
1961 Stout Street - Room 1426
Denver, CO 80294
(303) 844-2024; (303) 844-3439 (TDD)
toll free 1-866-239-0458
(303) 844-2025 FAX
https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/filing-a-complaint/complaint-process/index.html

Recalls and Product Safety

Search a full list of recalled product that could negatively affect your child.

Montana hotline?