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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Montana

Grants can have a significant impact on your business operations. Use this guide to understand childcare grants in Montana and secure the support you need.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Montana

Navigating Childcare Grants in Montana

Finding adequate funding for your childcare business can be challenging. Fortunately, there are childcare grants available in Montana to help providers enhance their facilities, develop professionally, and better serve their communities.

 This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about securing a grant for your childcare program.

What is a grant?

Grants are non-repayable funds or products disbursed by one party, often a government department, corporation, foundation, or trust. In the context of childcare, grants can help you cover the costs of facility upgrades, staff salaries, professional development, and other essential needs.

Understanding the various types of grants available and knowing how to apply for them can significantly impact your ability to provide high-quality childcare services.

The U.S. government’s second and final funding package for fiscal year 2024 includes a $1 billion increase for programs focused on child care and early childhood education¹. This new funding includes an additional $275 million for the Head Start program and $725 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant which funds state efforts to provide child care to families and improve the quality of care. 

Download a free grant writing guide for childcare programs here!

Preschool teacher reading a story to preschool children who are raising their hands.Source

Childcare grants in Montana

Montana offers a variety of grants catering to the needs of childcare providers. These grants come from different sources, including government agencies and private foundations, each aiming to ease the financial burdens faced by childcare providers.

Grants and resources from government agencies

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is the lead agency that oversees the distribution of the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) in Montana. This funding can be in the form of certificates, grants, or contracts to provide childcare services to low-income families or improve the quality of care provided.

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS)

The Montana DPHHS has various resources designed for childcare providers to support their operations and improve the quality of care provided. Some examples include:

  • Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship Program: This program offers financial assistance to low-income families, helping providers maintain enrollment and revenue.
  • Childcare Assistance for Childcare Workers: This program provides financial support to childcare workers to help cover the costs of their own childcare expenses, ensuring they can remain in the workforce while securing quality care for their children.
  • STARS to Quality: This is Montana’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) that provides a framework for assessing, improving, and communicating the level of quality in early care and education settings. Providers participating in STARS to Quality benefit from technical assistance, professional development opportunities, and financial incentives that can be used for classroom materials, staff training, and facility improvements.

Professional development support

Investing in the professional development of childcare staff is essential for maintaining high-quality early education. In Montana, several resources are available to assist providers in their professional growth, ensuring they can deliver exceptional childcare services.

Montana Early Childhood Project

The Montana Early Childhood Project provides a range of resources and support to childcare providers, including access to professional development opportunities, early childhood related scholarships, and incentive awards. 

Montana Child Care Business Connect

This state-wide organization is dedicated to assisting childcare providers in operating and expanding their businesses effectively. It offers comprehensive resources, including business training, financial planning advice, and administrative support. 

Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Agencies

Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies in Montana play a crucial role in connecting families with quality childcare services and supporting childcare providers. These agencies offer a wide range of services, including helping parents find suitable childcare options, providing information on financial assistance programs, and delivering training and technical assistance to providers.

Grants from private foundations

Grants from private foundations in Montana provide additional financial avenues for childcare providers seeking to enhance their services. These grants, often funded by charitable organizations, can address various needs, from facility improvements to educational resources.

Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation offers grants to improve educational opportunities, including early childhood education. They prioritize funding nonprofit organizations that support low income and underserved families throughout Montana. 

Montana Community Foundation

The Montana Community Foundation supports various initiatives aimed at improving community services, including child care.

The O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation

The foundation aims to enhance the quality of life for children and their families with an emphasis on early childhood care and education. Their geographic focus generally includes Montana, Wyoming, Vermont, Idaho, and the Dakotas.

Otto Bremer Trust

The Otto Bremer Trust offers funding for projects that enhance community well-being in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. 

Yellowstone Club Community Foundation

This foundation offers financial support for various community-based projects, including essential childcare services, educational programs, and local infrastructure improvements.

Federal grants and funding opportunities

The federal government offers a variety of grants and funding opportunities to support childcare providers across the United States, including Montana. These grants are designed to improve access to quality childcare, support the professional development of childcare workers, and enhance the learning environments for children under their care. Some key federal funding sources include:

U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) offers discretionary grants that are awarded using a competitive process, as well as student loans or grants to attend college, and formula grants determined by Congress. Here are some helpful resources to explore:

  • ED grants homepage: The ED grants homepage allows you to browse funding opportunities, links to grant applications, and your eligibility status.
  • The website is the central location that provides information on grants across the federal government. You can search for and apply to different funding opportunities, determine your eligibility, and access grant writing tips. 
  • Head Start and Early Head Start Programs: Aimed at promoting school readiness for children under five from low-income families, these programs provide grants directly to public and private non-profit and for-profit agencies to provide comprehensive child development services. The Office of Head Start (OHS) posts notices of funding opportunities (NOFOs) that seek applications for grand funds. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) manages various financial assistance programs for rural applications. One example is the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program that provides funds to be used to purchase, construct and/or improve essential community facilities like childcare centers, purchase equipment, and pay related project expenses in rural areas with no more than 20,000 residents.

Applying for grants

Applying for childcare grants in Montana can be a competitive process, as funding is often limited. To increase your chances of receiving a grant, it’s essential to carefully review and follow all application guidelines and requirements. Here are some general steps to take when applying for childcare grants:

  • Meet all licensing requirements: Ensure that your program meets all of the licensing requirements in Montana. Maintaining licensing compliance shows a commitment to high-quality standards and is often also required for you to be eligible for specific grants and funding opportunities.
  • Do your research and determine your eligibility: Research available grants and determine which ones align with your needs and goals. Before applying, check to see that you meet all the necessary criteria. Most (but not all) government grants are aimed at 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, so be sure to read the eligibility requirements carefully.
  • Gather your documentation: Most grant applications will ask for specific documentation, such as financial statements, demographic information, licenses, and certifications. Be sure to have these prepared in advance. With brightwheel you can quickly and easily access custom reporting to meet your specific needs.
  • Write a compelling grant proposal: Read successful grant applications to learn how to structure your approach. Include an executive summary of your project and clearly define the need or problem your childcare services address. Provide a detailed description of your program and list your objectives and expected outcomes. Follow all grant application instructions, have someone else review your proposal before submitting, and submit your application on time. 

Download a free grant writing guide for childcare programs here!


Additional tips for success

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when applying for grants for your childcare center:

  • Stay informed: Connect and engage with local and state organizations focused on early childhood education. If possible, join their email lists or follow their social media pages, as these organizations will often share grant and funding information as it becomes available. Also, regularly check the websites of federal agencies to stay informed on available grants or programs. 
  • Create a budget: A comprehensive childcare center budget will highlight the financial needs and priorities of your program and give funders a clear understanding of how a grant will be utilized. With a clear picture of your program’s finances, you can also maximize the impact of any funding that is received.
  • Plan a fundraiser: Hosting a fundraising event can raise necessary funds for your program. Have a bake sale, organize a silent auction, or host a trivia night. 
  • Hire a grant proposal writer: If your budget allows, consider hiring a grant proposal writer. A grant proposal writer can craft a compelling narrative about your program and navigate the complexities of the grant application process for you.

Final thoughts

Childcare providers in Montana have numerous resources at their disposal to help improve their services and facilities. From financial assistance to professional development, these grants can make a significant difference in your business. Take the time to research and apply for these opportunities to ensure the best possible care for the children in your community.


1. “Former Preschool Teacher Patty Murray Delivers $1 Billion More to Help Families Find and Afford Child Care & Pre-K”, United States Senate Committee on Appropriations, 03/21/2024.

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