The pandemic showed how important childcare facilities are for families nationwide. But just how important is early childhood education? Studies show that these programs are vital for school readiness in the primary grades.

An article written by Jennifer Calder from 2014 in the Montana Business Quarterly discusses the importance of investment in early childhood education. Since young children’s environment largely stem from relationships, healthy development in young children depends on the quality care and reliability of those relationships developed with parents and care providers. 

One research article from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine says most early childhood development programs are designed to improve cognitive and social-emotional functions for preschool-aged children. These functions help little ones start preparing for starting school. Early childhood development programs can also influence school readiness for children in low income or poverty-stricken families. They may also help prevent issues of school behavioral issues and academic failure. These issues can be dropping out of school, unemployment, or delinquency.

Preschool programs like Head Start try to help cater to children from disadvantaged families. The nationwide preschool program aims to enhance early child development and provide them with nutritional, educational, and health services. It also helps strengthen families as their children and link them to necessary community services. Head Start ensures each program work to involve parents in decision-making. 

Many resources and programs in Montana are in place to ensure quality early childhood care and education. The Montana Early Childhood Project (ECP) was established in 1985 and works to improve programs and resources for young children and their families. The project is from Montana State University’s Department of Health and Human Development and is funded through the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The ECP has created a state plan for early care and educational development, working closely with their partner organizations. The plan helps promote professional development for early childhood programs. The Advisory Board for ECP includes the Head Start Association, the Early Childhood Higher Education Consortium, The Montana Association for Education of Young Children, and more. 

Click here to find available resources for families with young children and how they can benefit the most from early child care and education.