Tester Announces Nearly $3 Million for Head Start Programs Across Four Montana Counties
These Programs Serve Children in Great Falls, Vaughn, Conrad, Shelby & Cut Bank
(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced $2.87 million to support Head Start, Early Head Start, and Early Head Start Child Care Partnership programs-serving children ages five and younger-in Cascade, Pondera, Toole, and Glacier Counties.
“Head Start ensures that children across Montana have the educational, physical, and emotional support they need to thrive,” said Tester, a former school teacher. “These resources will help pave the way for Montana’s next generation and support strong families across our state.”
The funding comes from the Administration for Children & Families, and has been awarded to Opportunities, Inc., an organization that administers Head Start, Early Head Start, and Early Head Start Child Care Partnership Programs across Montana. These programs provide educational, nutritional, and social services to both children and families in an effort to help the next generation hit the ground running in kindergarten and beyond.
“These programs, in partnership with each community, empower parents and families to create lasting change for themselves and their children,” said Bev Matsko, Head Start Director for Opportunities, Inc. “Additionally, the comprehensive services provided through these programs and such as child care, education, training, health and nutrition, and family engagement create opportunities for children and families to grow, develop, and learn new and meaningful skills to build self-reliance and establish a pathway out of poverty.”
This award will fund 19 Head Start classrooms-serving children ages three through five-in Great Falls, Vaughn, Conrad, Shelby and Cut Bank. These classrooms provide Pre-K preparation, daily meals, and advanced health screenings to children in the program.
Early Head Start
This award will fund five Early Head Start classrooms-serving children ages zero to three and their parents-in Great Falls. In addition to health, education and nutrition services, Early Head Start programs provide multi-generational social services-everything from GED prep for parents to help establishing bedtime routines for kids-that are individually tailored to families in the program.
Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships
This award will fund 16 Early Head Start Child Care Partnership classrooms-run in conjunction with seven local partners-that serve infants and toddlers in Great Falls. This includes classrooms that are open up to 19 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure parents who work all hours can access quality affordable childcare in Great Falls.
Matsko also notes that Opportunities, Inc. has recently teamed up with Montana’s Little Shell Tribe to develop a native language program and bring the traditional language of the Chippewa Cree into Head Start classrooms.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester has been a champion of Head Start in the Senate, securing critical resources for Montana kids.