Financial Incentives

Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program

The Best Beginnings STARS to Quality program is Montana’s voluntary Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS). Learn about the STARS to Quality Program, or to 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 accomplishments in early care and education by joining The Practitioner Registry. Your education and experience will determine your level on the Career Path. Registry participation is a requirement of many financial incentives available for providers who complete specific training. For more information, visit the Montana Early Childhood Project website or by calling 800-213-6310.

Child and Adult Care Food Program

CACFP is a revenue source for partial meal reimbursements to help you serve the children nutritious meals. Child Care Resources sponsors of the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) for home providers. Centers participate though MT CACFP via the Early Childhood Services Bureau.

Contact us to sign up if you are a family or group home child care provider. We will make an appointment to visit your facility and help you complete the application. We’ll share resources about the program and 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 the CACFP, please visit the Montana CACFP.

Providers participating in the CACFP receive four hours of free professional development, which count toward the annual licensing training requirement.

Grants and Incentives

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

Professional Development Incentive Award (PDIA)

Several types of Early Childhood Workforce Incentives have been developed with the goal to support professional development and improve overall program quality in early care and education in Montana for young children and families. They 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 Course 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 (MECAP) – Get a mentor and 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 an apprentice learns both the theoretical and practical aspects of the job, earns a Child Care Development Specialist Certificate from the Department of Labor and Industry, and achieves Level 4 on the Montana Practitioner Registry. Receiving an apprentice stipend does not disqualify participants from receiving other quality program incentives.

Mini Grants

Currently, there are no Mini Grants available. If this changes new information will be posted at that time.


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