Pilot Projects Stabilize. Innovate. Build.

Family-Centered Early Childhood Policy Pilot


The 2023 Zero to Five Montana Family-Centered Early Childhood Policy Pilot launched in July 2023.

Congratulations to team-leaders Tori Sproles with Child Care Connections in Gallatin County, Dawnann Davis with Zero to Five Butte-Silver Bow and Jessica Schaak of Mineral County Family Connections Collaborative. 

The community projects include developing a strategic plan for a shared vision for flexible and diverse child care options for families with recommendations to local policy makers and launching a cohort of parent leaders who will be trained around leadership and empowerment. 

This pilot project is aimed to increase parent engagement in early childhood policy and advocacy issues and will help communities in Montana build and strengthen comprehensive policies, programs, and systems to ensure expecting families and those with infants and young children have the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. 

Compared to other states, investments in early childhood through public policy are extremely limited in Montana. This project aims to help community teams take an intentional focus on children prenatal through age 5, building on existing efforts to improve outcomes for families with young children, and identify solutions that meet the needs of families and caregivers today. 

While each community will determine specific outcomes they want to work towards through this project, Zero to Five Montana will support all teams to achieve progress on short-term outcomes that are critical to laying the groundwork for policy change. 

Timeline: July 2023-July 2024 

  • One-on-one meetings and learning opportunities will occur regularly through the project timeline. 
  • Six-Month Activity Update & Action Plan Due: December 2023 
  • Final Reports Due: July 2024 


Community Learning Series



“Partnering with Schools to Support Early Learning and Literacy”: A panel presentation hosted by Zero to Five Montana featuring local champions working on collaborative relationships between school districts and other partners to bolster school readiness. Let this inspiring panel spark creative thinking around ways to support young children in your community! (Dec. 12, 2022)


Community and Employer Innovations Pilot

The goal of this pilot was to support community and employer partners in developing a child care infrastructure strategy that meets the needs of employers and families in communities across the state. Participants of the pilot received grant funds to support community or employer-level planning, access to technical assistance and consultation related to various child care models (including the child care cooperative model), as well as resources and connections to relevant business and child care supports as they developed a plan that worked for their businesses and communities. Over the course of one year, participating communities/employer groups worked to increase the supply of high-quality affordable child care in their local communities by developing strategies and action plans, and connected to a broader network to support successful implementation and access to child care funding.


Baker Community/Employer Partners – Baker, MT

Zero to Five Beaverhead Collaborative – Beaverhead County

St. John’s United – Billings, MT

Human Resource Development Council (HRDS) – Bozeman, MT

Lewistown Community/Employer Partners – Lewistown, MT

Zero to Five Mineral County Collaborative – Mineral County

Park County Community/Employer Partners – Park County

Sparrowsvine Resource Center & Seeley Lake Community Foundation – Seeley Lake, MT

Immanuel Lutheran Communities – Kalispell, MT


Click below for resources to support your community planning. Please reach out if you’d like more information, or would like to request a community-level conversation to further explore this topic in your community.





Montana Infant and Toddler Tribal Language Pilot

The Montana Tribal Language Pilot helped create opportunities for infant-toddler programs in Montana to create, strengthen, and promote native language strategies in classrooms for infants and toddlers.

2022 Montana Infant/Toddler Tribal Language Pilot Participants:

CS&KT Early Childhood Services, Pablo, MT

Browning Schools Child Care Center, Browning, MT

Fort Belknap Child Care, Fort Belknap, MT

Blackfeet Early Childhood Center, Browning, MT

Tiny Tots Child Care, Wolf Point, MT

The Zero to Five Initiative

Zero to Five Montana was launched as part of the Zero to Five Initiative, a network made of locally-led coalitions across Western Montana seed-funded by the Headwaters Foundation. The initiative aimed to help Montanans identify their most pressing concerns for kids and families and agree on, design and implement solutions. It connected organizations and advocates to leverage resources, share lessons learned and identify opportunities for collaboration. Learn more on the Headwaters Foundation website.

This network is evolving into the Montana Early Childhood Network. Read more.

You Can Make a Difference

We believe investing in our children today is the most important pathway to a healthy, thriving Montana tomorrow. Click the button below to learn more about how you can get involved.