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Zero to Five works to develop and implement policy change through collaboration, research, advocacy, and community partnerships. They focus on giving families the tools they need to succeed, from pregnancy all the way to their child’s first day of school, and beyond.

State Allies:

Zero to Five • Helena, MT
Top Priorities for 2021

Pass legislation to establish a state-funded preschool program.

Convene a cross-sector state-level leadership team to develop a robust infant and toddler child care infrastructure strategy. One short-term action this year is to pilot a community-based shared services or cooperative model feasibility study.

Build legislative champions for early childhood.

Collaborate with Tribal Child Care, Tribal Head Start, and Tribal Colleges to update the preschool education standards to include tribal language and culture ahead of the 2021 legislative session.

Develop a local/grassroots advocacy strategy to align and mobilize on early childhood policy issues.

Recruit businesses to implement Family Forward Montana policy solutions, including policies to increase child care access and paid family leave.

Montana’s 2020 Early Childhood Policy Landscape and Progress:

Estimated FY20 State General Fund Expenditures

House (R), Senate (R)
Governor (D)

42,062 Young Children (0-8) are Below 200% FPL

The Montana early childhood landscape in 2020 started off strong. Advocates came out of a tough legislative session in 2019. With a new strategy, they began working closely with the Montana Education Interim Committee to outline a bill draft through the committee. The budget outlook initially looked promising, but due to COVID-19, the outlook has shifted for the 2021 Legislative Session.

Montana did not have a legislative session in 2020. Zero to Five delivered on its priorities for 2020. Zero to Five engaged in statewide grassroots advocacy, collected and promoted parents’ experiences related to child care, and partnered with state agency programs and the Office of the Governor to allocate $50 million of CARES Act funding to child care providers and families. This amount was in addition to the $10.1 million in CARES Act Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding for Montana. In addition, Zero to Five conducted Montana’s first ever public opinion polling on voter attitudes about child care and pre-kindergarten.

*Early childhood policy progress in a state is the result of numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

More from Montana:

Download the full 50-State report.

The Alliance for Early Success 2020 50-State Progress Report on Early Childhood Policy expands state data (disaggregating low-income young children by race) and provides high-level state policy trend analysis for the nation as a whole. Click the icon to download the report.

State Budget Data: National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), “Table 4: Fiscal 2020 State General Fund, Estimated (Millions); The Fiscal Survey of the States.” Spring, 2020

Low-Income Data (including disaggregation by race): National Center for Children in Poverty, “NCCP Analysis of ACS 1-year Estimates—Public Use Microdata Sample, 2019.”

State Action Data: Provided by state advocates, October-November 2020, with analysis and synthesis by Frontera Strategy for Alliance for Early Success, “Protecting Progress and Investing in Scale: The 2020 50-State Progress Report on Early Childhood Education Policy.”

Additional State Actions: Mincic, Melissa,  Early Care and Education, State Budget Actions, Fiscal Year 2020. National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), October 2020. 


The Alliance for Early Success is achieving large-scale, long-lasting change for the state’s young children by providing our allies with powerful advantages that help them shape Montana early childhood state policy.

Strategic, Outcomes-Focused Investments

Consulting and Strategy

Technical Support from National Expertise

Rapid Response Support

Connections/Access to Allies in Similar States

Roles in National Communities of Practice