Q:  Do I qualify for a Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship?

There are different scholarships available depending on circumstances. Please read each scenario carefully to decide which program may work best for your family.

If you fit into one of the situations described below, you may be eligible for a Non-TANF Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship.

  • Are you a single parent working at least 15 hours a week or going to school full-time and working at least 10 hours a week? OR
  • Are you a two-parent household working a combined total of 120 hours a month, regardless of school hours? OR
  • Are you under the age of 20 and attending a GED program, working on obtaining a diploma, or equivalency program?

 Download Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship Application Packet

 The following paperwork is in the application packet:

 A Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship Application.

  • Copies of birth certificates and social security cards of all family members listed on the application.
  • Two months of current wage stubs for all employed household members.
  • Adult Household Member Information
  • Child Household Member Information
  • School/Training Verification Form if attending school or training.
  • Work Verification Form completed and signed by the employers of every employed household member and/or Self Employment Verification for any self-employed household members.
  • Child support verification for every child in the house with an absent parent with documentation.  If you believe it is in the best interest of the child not to pursue child support, you may make a claim for Good Cause and must provide evidence to support the claim.  Making a claim for good cause does not guarantee it will be approved.
  • Child Care Service Plan form completed with the licensed, registered, or Legally Certified Provider (LCP) of your choice. If choosing an LCP, a different application must also be completed by the person you choose as soon as possible to ensure no gaps in assistance.  Read more about the Best Beginnings LCP program.
  • A Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship family is required to report any change that may affect eligibility. You may do this by filling out the Change Report Form.
  • Reporting Requirements
  • Best Beginnings Recertification Mini-Application
  • Applications are available in Spanish on the ECSB site.

For more information about the income guidelines for the Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship, please visit the Early Childhood Service Bureau.

Other Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship Opportunities

You may be eligible for a TANF Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship if you are approved on TANF cash and have met with a WoRC case manager. If your WoRC case manager is approving you for child care assistance, they will refer you to our program by email or fax. A two page TANF application is required and normally completed with your WoRC case manager.

  • You may be eligible for the Working Caretaker Relative Child Care Scholarship if you are a family member caring for a child that is related to you but not your own child. This program is only referred to us from an Office of Public Assistance (OPA) worker. Contact the OPA at 406-454-5640 and application requirements are the same for the Non-TANF Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship.
  • You may be eligible for the Child Protective Services Child Care Scholarship if you are a foster parent that has activities requiring child care. Your social worker will approve any child care need and send a referral to us. There are no co-payments required for this program.

Q: How is my child care provider chosen?

A: You choose your own licensed or registered child care provider. These providers meet Montana’s basic regulations regarding child development, health, and safety. Generally, your child care provider receives a direct payment from the state if you are approved for one of our child care scholarships.

Q: Can I choose a family member or friend as my provider?

A: Family members and friends are often eligible to be paid as “Legally Certified” child care providers through the Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship program. For more information about Legally Certified Providers, click here.

Q: How much do I pay to my provider?

A: Families using scholarships make co-payments to providers. These co-payments are determined on a sliding fee scale beginning at $10 per month and increasing based on family size and income.

Families must pay their providers the required co-payment and any other fees or charges that may exceed the region’s reimbursement rates.

Q: How does the scholarship pay my child care provider?

A: A pre-printed invoice is mailed to the child care provider each month. Child care providers receive one invoice for every eligible family in their care. The invoice lists the family’s children for whom care will be paid, the certification end date, and the amount of the family’s co-payment. The hours billed on the invoice must reflect the child’s actual attendance rounded to the nearest ΒΌ hours as it relates to approved activities. The child care provider must enter the daily attendance hours for each child and co-payment received. The invoice must be completed, signed, and dated by the child care provider. The completed invoice must be mailed, faxed, or delivered to the families’ local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency within 5 days following the month in which care was provided.

Q: How do I know when I am approved for a Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship?

A: Child Care Partnerships (or the local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency) sends a copy of the family’s child care certification plan to the family and to the child care provider when the family has been approved to receive a Best Beginnings Scholarship. The certification plan shows the days and hours of care, the beginning date and ending date of care, the children authorized for care, and the co-payment amount. The certification plan shows the minimum benefit available to the family, and the provider may bill only for actual attendance, rounded to the nearest 1/4 (0.25) hour each day as it relates to approved activities. The provider is not entitled to bill for certified hours, unless the child attends. There are specific policy exceptions, such as CE days, holidays, or a pre-approved hold-the slot payment. New certification plans are sent if there are any changes. Read the certification plan carefully and contact an eligibility specialist at Child Care Partnerships with any questions.

“It’s For the Kids!”