For parents of young children

Due to the pandemic, our office is closed to the public. The CCR team is available during our regular business hours to assist you by phone, email, fax, and mail. You can also use the drop box in the alley located behind our building to leave us paperwork. If you would like to pick up paperwork, we have a stacker with scholarship forms located outside our office door. If you have questions about what forms you may need, please contact us by phone or email in advance so we can prepare a packet for you.

We know these changes are inconvenient and less friendly than we prefer. We are doing our best to keep you and our staff as safe as possible. Thanks for your patience while the CCR crew does our best to serve you while working from home.

In-Home Grants for Families

In August, Montana dedicated $10 million to help families facing special circumstances that resulted in the need to keep children at home rather than in school or child care.  Households with children ages 0-18 with a medically vulnerable family member, a child with remote learning challenges, or in communities that have no school age care available were eligible for $4,000 grants. That program launched in August and eligible families received $4,000 grants.

As of October 25th, CCR awarded the entire $1.5 million to 375 families in Missoula, Mineral and Ravalli counties. There are approximately 3,500 families on the waiting list statewide.

It is possible that Montana will allocate additional funds to this program in which case the waiting list will be prioritized. CCR is no longer accepting applications.

Upload your completed application or mail/drop it off at 500 N. Higgins, Suite 202, Missoula, MT 59802.

Child Care During COVID-19

Click here for a checklist on considerations for choosing or returning to child care during the pandemic, and here is a great social story to share with your child about staying healthy at school.

Follow CDC recommendations and do not take your child to child care if:

  • Anyone in your household is sick.
  • You have been in contact with someone who has been tested and diagnosed as positive for coronavirus and/or COVID-19.
  • Follow any county health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.

Governor Gianforte released an updated directive on February 12, rescinding the statewide mask mandate and urging personal responsibility and encouraging continued mask use. The Missoula City County Health Department continues to have more restrictive guidelines in effect for Missoula County than those in effect state-wide. They issued Phase 2 guidance for child care settings as well as additional guidance for the use of face coverings. Missoula City County Health Department requires face coverings in indoor spaces. Make sure the facility your child is attending adheres to these guidelines. The CDC recommends that adults and children over the age of 2 wear masks in group settings, regardless of what state or local guidelines are in effect.

Some families may be able to use family, friends, or neighbors as caregivers. CCR advises you to use an informal caregiver who is under age 60, in good health and has no underlying health problems. Having someone care for only your children, rather than using a group setting, reduces the risk of infection to your child and the risk your child might transmit the disease to others. Young children cannot understand or remember to maintain 6 feet of distance and child care providers must touch children to care for them.  Here are some tips for informal caregivers which are also useful for parents.

Vaccine Update: Here is updated information on the COVID-19 Vaccine Plan for Montana. Everyone, including child care providers, 16 or older, is now eligible for vaccination against COVID-19. And here is a great resource from First Book to help answer questions on the vaccine.

Best Beginnings Scholarships

Governor Bullock issued an emergency child care directive which gives DPHHS Early Childhood Services Bureau flexibility to modify scholarship rules and procedures under the directive’s broad guidelines. The Bureau approved additional assistance for scholarship recipients for March, April, and May of 2020. The Bureau also approved additional assistance for August 2020, forward.


Starting August 1st, 2020, the state returned to paying the full authorized attendance amounts for children eligible under the Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship if they are in attendance at least 85% of the authorized time. Additionally, the Bureau has temporarily set the school-age state reimbursement rates to match the higher preschool-age state rates effective 8/1/2020. State reimbursement rates for the Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship can be found here. Currently, up to 10 absences due to COVID-19 can be covered under your scholarship per month for things such as quarantine due to COVID-19 or COVID-19 exposure, or a closure of your child care facility due to exposure to COVID-19.

School-Age Hours:

Beginning November 1, 2020, school-age children can be authorized for up to 30 hours per week during the 2020/2021 school year regardless of the learning environment and school schedule. This limitation in hours is to comply with federal rules regarding school age care. Authorizations were adjusted to comply with this rule effective 11/1/2020. The scholarship will only cover 30 hours per week for a school-age child, even if school is not in person. If your child receives the Special Needs Subsidy or if you work non-traditional hours, you may be eligible for more than 30 hours. Contact your case worker if you meet one of these circumstances. Here is a state flyer outlining the changes.

Co-payments & Sliding Fee Scale:

The sliding fee scale was updated effective 11/1/2020. This change has been implemented and the copay for some families was adjusted starting 11/1 going forward. Not all families were eligible. Here is a state flyer outlining this change and the new income limits can be found here.


If your usual facility is closed, the scholarship travels with you to any other licensed child care program. Remember to report the change within one day if you need to use a new child care provider, even temporarily, by contacting your caseworker at 406-728-6446. Let us know if you need help finding one with openings.


Remember to report changes to your contact information, child care provider, activities, family membership, and income promptly. Income and activity changes reported may decrease your co-payment. If you have lost employment or become unemployed, please contact your caseworker to see if you are eligible for a grace period.

This site will be updated as policy changes are made known. Check back and watch for our e-news for further updates.  Please make sure we have your email address so we can contact you promptly if we receive new information. You can email your caseworker directly to be sure we have your address or you can send an email to our general inbox.

Face Masks

The Missoula City-County Health Department requires face coverings in indoor public spaces. This includes children over the age of 5 and is recommended for children ages 2-4. Children under the age of two should not wear a face covering. Providers and families in Missoula County are required to comply with the local health department order requiring masks to be worn, which includes employees and children ages 5+ wearing a mask in child care while indoors. There are also exceptions for when children and adults are engaged in strenuous exercise or are in other conditions that make wearing a face covering unsafe or impractical. Parents/guardians who are picking up/dropping children off must wear a face covering if and when entering and/or exiting a childcare facility. Child care providers/programs in other counties are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines regarding mask-wearing and other disease prevention measures. Here is a resource from the CDC with DIY instructions for making your own cloth face covering. And here is an idea for a mask design for a younger child or a child who has trouble wearing a traditional mask.

Resources for talking to children about face masks:

Parenting During COVID

We realize this is a stressful time for you and your kids. To help you get through it, we recommend that you engage in fun activities together – games, books, cooking, playing outside.