Providing Child Care in Montana


Welcome providers. Building and running a child care business is a big undertaking. Between health and safety standards, best business practices, enrollment, and finances, it can feel overwhelming. That's where the State office of child care comes in. We have the resources, programs and information you need to make caring for children more approachable.


Child care licensing exists to improve the quality of childcare for Montana families. But, its main goal is to help you as a provider grow a reputable business. You've probably heard that becoming a licensed child care provider is a lot of work. It may seem intimidating at first but we are here to make the process as informative and smooth as possible. Here are some excellent reasons to become licensed:

  • Gain access to scholarship funds for families.
  • Diversify your financial portfolio.
  • Commit to the health and safety of children in your care.
  • Receive staff and business training from state and local specialists.
  • Technical support

Child Care Licensing

Families often look for licensing credentials when making child care decisions. If you want your child care business to receive remain resilient, consider becoming licensed. Visit Child Care Licensing to learn more or complete the Online Provider Application to jump start the licensing process.

Licensed Programs Receive:

  • pre-inspection prior to providing care
  • ongoing monitoring and support
  • annual inspection
  • eligibility for subsidy programs

Current licensed providers can be a great resource for providers looking to become licensed. Use this Child Care Provider Search feature to learn about licensed providers in your area and reach out!


State subsidy programs help eligible families access child care and other resources at a reduced cost. As a licensed provider you can take part in these programs voluntarily. Subsidies can provide your business with another form of income. Consider getting involved!

Best Beginnings Scholarship Program (BBS)

The BBS Program helps eligible low-income families whose child receives care from a qualified provider pay for care. If you want to learn more or would like to participate click on the program link above. If you are a current provider serving BBS children use the links below to access information and the portal.


Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

CACFP provides nutritional meals and snacks to children and adults in eligible child care programs. The program reimburses the providers for the cost of each meal. Visit the CACFP homepage to learn more.

Steps and requirements to consider before applying:


In Montana we know its critical to support providers in delivering the best care possible to children. The State child care office offers many professional development and training opportunities to accelerate your child care career or train up staff in your business.

Staff Training and Development Offerings:

  • Child Care
    • is the official training hub of licensed child care providers throughout Montana. The site hosts virtual coursework covering critical early childhood issues like child abuse, nutrition, and other fundamentals of your business! Come develop your professional portfolio by signing up for this free online learning community today!
  • Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential:
    • The CDA is an early step in a professional’s career growth and can open doors to higher wages. Candidates who earn a CDA complete at minimum, 120 hours of training, a professional portfolio, 480 hours of work experience in a child care setting, a verification visit, and an exam.
  • Early Childhood Project

Best Business Practices

Zero to Five Montana's Child Care Business Connect  is a small business support provided by Zero to Five. If you are considering opening a new licensed registered child care business, significantly growing an existing child care operation or if you want to mentor new business owner consider applying today.

Zero to Five Montana is a statewide early childhood organization focused on increasing access to early care and education, supporting and strengthening families, uplifting voices, and empowering small businesses and communities.


There are many resources to help you build a quality child care program. Quality initiatives facilitate the inclusion of children with special needs and support the health and well-being of children. STARS for example challenges you to meet standards of excellence. It provides a space to train your staff and track their progression. Join us in giving the next generation the best we have to offer by committing to quality.

STARS to Quality

STARS to Quality is a voluntary program of the Early Childhood Project. STARS aligns quality indicators with support and incentives for early childhood programs and early childhood professionals. As a STARS participant you enroll in a continuous improvement system of support. You earn incentives for participating and progressing from STAR 1 to STAR 5. Become part of a cohort of child care providers aiming to be the best!

Providers can apply to be part of the STARS Program at any time, simply create an account or login with your organization's ECP account to begin.

Still have questions? Contact your local CCR&R Agency.

Learn more about the basics of Child Growth and Development

Montana Early Learning Standards

MELS is a resource for early childhood professionals to help them support the growth and development of young children.

Knowledge Base

KB is a guide for early care professionals and educators: what you need to know, understand, and be able to implement in practice.


You may be wondering how, as a child care provider, you fit into the bigger picture of child care in Montana. Why does the State care about the success and quality of your business? Below we provide some context to your business relationship with the state and some resources to help you connect with your peers.

Child Care Provider Search

Search child care providers throughout the state or in your local area.

Child Care Development Fund

The CCDF Federal Block Grant is a funding source dedicated to providing low-income families with help paying for child care. It also supports quality initiatives to improve and expand child care programs. If you are a STARS provider, accept BBS kids, or are generally interested, click the CCDF link above.

Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies

CCR&R Agencies are regional offices devoted to helping families in their locale find the best child care option for them. They also work with providers to offer the following:

  • Family referrals to your licensed child care facilities.
  • Training, technical assistance, and support for your child care business.
  • Information on projects or funding to help build up the quality of your operation.
  • Advocacy


If you haven't yet reached information overload, we have a few more resources for you to consider. Whether you've been a provider for over 30 years or are just beginning, we welcome you to explore the additional resources here and to reach out to us at the State child care office to talk about how our programs, initiatives and supports can help you build your child care business.

Montana Head Start Collaboration Office

Recalls and Product Safety Information

Additional Documents, Resources, and Program Information