Montana Right Now: $5 Million goes toward Head Start Program in Great Falls

by Afiq Hisham

CASCADE COUNTY – From housing to childcare, low income families in Great Falls can struggle to make ends meet. However, they may get a leg up thanks to millions in federal funds going towards a local head start program.

Over $5 million from the US Department of Health & Human Services is going towards Opportunities, Inc., a non-profit focused on helping families out of poverty.

This money supports early education and child care programs for families that qualify, according to an email from Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-Montana) office.

“To qualify for head start, you have to be [living at the] federal poverty level or below… In Montana that’s very low income,” Maryjane Standaert, an executive director at the Montana Head Start Association said.

With almost 12,000 people in Cascade County living below the poverty level, this boost helps people meet at least some of their top needs, depending on their community.

“Some of our communities are wealthier than others, some are more isolated” than others so it just really depends,” Standaert said.

While Montana Right Now’s calls to Opportunities Inc didn’t go through, Standaert says federal funding can go a long way in streamlining access to community services.

“Head start staff don’t just help families access low income services, but they help them become a user of the library, or you the parks and recreation system, because a lot of low income families aren’t comfortable in doing those things on their own,” she said.

The group’s based in Great Falls, but they also help in five other areas, including Toole, Pondera and Teton counties. They have programs in the following fields:


Energy Assistance

Emergency Services

Employment and Training Services

Housing Services

Community Engagement.

You can give them a visit at 905 1st Ave North, or find more information about the group at their official website.