Gov. Bullock announces nearly $1.4 million to serve Montana preschoolers

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced Wednesday that the state has received $1,375,218 in supplemental funding to serve more at-risk 4-year-old Montana kids with high-quality preschool.

“If we take care of our kids and give them high-quality early childhood experiences, we set the stage for their success in school and in life,”  Bullock said in a news release. “These dollars will enhance our recent investments in high-quality preschool and create more educational opportunities for the next generation of Montanans.”

The funding was awarded to the Montana Office of Public Instruction as a supplemental to the Preschool Development Grant. The Montana Preschool Development Grant is a partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of Public Instruction.

The funding will be provided to preschools in Montana to provide financial assistance for early childhood teachers to pursue higher education credentials, increase quality of preschool programs serving high needs and at-risk children, serve more four-year-old children with a priority on children with special needs, English language learners and American Indian children, and assist programs in making preschool classrooms and facilities inclusive for children with disabilities, English Language Learners, and American Indian children.

In the first two years of the grant, 1,838 children and their families gained access to preschool, ensuring they start kindergarten ready to learn. Last year, 152 educators benefitted from financial assistance from the grant to pursue higher education and training.

Governor Bullock worked with the 2017 Montana Legislature to secure the state’s first-ever investment in publicly-funded high-quality early childhood education – $6 million over the next two years to expand educational services for Montana’s four- and five-year-olds. Funding to create the STARS preschool pilot program was included in House Bill 649 and passed with bipartisan support.