Financial Incentives

Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program

The Best Beginnings STARS to Quality program is Montana’s voluntary Quality Rating Improvement System, or QRIS. Learn about the STARS to Quality Program, or apply to participate. Click here to learn more about participating programs in our area.

Montana’s Early Childhood Career Path

Montana has developed a comprehensive, coordinated career development system for practitioners working in every type of childhood setting. Gain the recognition you deserve for your experience, education and training in early childhood care and education by joining The Practitioner Registry. Your education and experience will determine your level on the Career Path. Financial incentives may be available to you as a child care provider if you have completed specific trainings; registry participation is a requirement for many of these incentives. For more information, visit the Montana Early Childhood Project website or call 800.213.6310.

Child and Adult Care Food Program

CACFP provides partial meal reimbursements to help you serve nutritious meals to the children in your care. Child Care Resources sponsors the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program for home providers. Centers participate though Montana CACFP via the Early Childhood Services Bureau.

If you are a family or group home child care provider contact us to sign up. We will visit your facility and help you complete the application. We’ll also share resources about the program and about serving nutritious meals. The best part is that you can begin claiming meals for reimbursements the day we visit to sign you up!

If you have a child care center and are interested in enrolling in CACFP, please visit Montana CACFP.

As a provider participating in CACFP you receive four hours of free professional development, which count toward your annual licensing training requirement.

Grants and Incentives

The Early Childhood Services Bureau supports quality early care and education programs for all children. ECSB funds many grants and incentive programs for child care professionals in Montana.

Professional Development Incentive Award

Several types of Early Childhood Workforce Incentives have been developed — all with the goal of supporting professional development and improving overall program quality in early care and education for young children and families in Montana. These incentives include:

  • Practitioner Registry Renewal Awards and Practitioner Registry Achievement Awards.
  • Professional Development Incentive Awards (formerly known as Merit Pay) for completion of non-college-credit training.
  • Higher Education Professional Development Incentive Awards upon completion of early childhood college coursework.
  • Infant / Toddler and Preschool Professional Development Incentive Awards upon completion of 60-hour Infant/Toddler or Preschool course.

Visit the Montana Early Childhood Project Professional Development Incentive Awards.

The Montana Early Childhood Apprenticeship Program, or MECAP — Get a mentor and a financial stipend to support your on-the-job training in an early childhood program while you are pursuing core college coursework. The mentor receives a stipend as does the host program. The result is that as an apprentice you learn the theoretical and practical aspects of the job, earn a Child Care Development Specialist Certificate from the state Department of Labor and Industry, and achieve Level 4 on the Montana Practitioner Registry. Receiving an apprentice stipend does not disqualify students from receiving other quality program incentives.

Mini Grants

Currently, there are no Mini Grants available. If this changes we will post the new information.


The Montana Early Childhood Project has several scholarship programs available to help you achieve your professional development goals as an early childhood professional. For a description of the scholarships and the application process, please visit the Montana Early Childhood Project.