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National Accreditation and Credential Programs

The Montana Early Care and Education Scholarship Program offers three scholarships that are funded by Best Beginnings Quality Improvement monies (a portion of the federal Child Care Development Fund administered by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services).

Apply to the Early Childhood Project for any of the following scholarships at least six weeks prior to submitting your materials to the appropriate organizations. Applicants must be active on The Practitioner Registry. To apply for the Registry or any of the following scholarships, visit the Early Childhood Project.

  • Child Development Associate (CDA) Assessment Scholarship – This scholarship pays for the CDA assessment fee of $325.00 (and the renewal assessment fee of $50) awarded when the candidate applies to the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition in Washington, D.C. Visit the Council of Professional Recognition for more information about attaining a CDA Credential.
  • National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) Accreditation – The NAFCC accreditation process is designed for family and group home child care programs. It involves a comprehensive self-study, parent surveys, and an observer visit. The fee is $300 for Enrolling in Self Study, $500 for NAFCC Accreditation and $150 for first and second year renewal of accreditation. Full scholarships are available to cover all three steps of the accreditation process.
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation – The NAEYC accreditation process is designed for child care centers, preschools, school-age programs, and kindergartens. Scholarships are available to help pay the costs of the four steps in the NAEYC accreditation process and for the Annual Report fee.

Have you ever thought about opening your own business? Being a child care provider gives you the opportunity to work from home while still earning an income. How do you go about becoming a licensed provider? See below:

1. Decide what type of provider you want to be.

Family Child Cares offer a “home-like” atmosphere with a ratio of one caregiver to a maximum of six children including the provider’s own under the age of six. The provider is required to be registered with the State of Montana.

  • Group Child Cares are settings where two adults provide care for a maximum of 12 children including the providers’ own under the age of six. Care is often provided in a private home. The providers are required to be registered with the State of Montana.
  • Child Care Centers care for 13 or more children determined by square footage of the facility. Centers are required to be licensed with the State of Montana. Contact QAD for more information at 406-444-1510 as this process is different than family or group licensing.
  • Legally Certified Provider (LCP) is a special provider certification category that is used for child care scholarship purposes only. A Legally Certified Provider may care for no more than two unrelated children or all members in one sibling group. Click here for more information or to access the application packet online.

2. Complete and submit licensing paperwork.

 Access licensing paperwork at the QAD website and fill-out the forms. If you live in Lewis & Clark, Broadwater or Jefferson county, please contact Child Care Partnerships for any assistance and questions when completing the forms. If you live outside these counties, find and contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency for assistance as you will work with them in future when attending classes and applying for grants. This paperwork can be submitted once completed or after attending Orientation.

 3. Attend Orientation at Child Care Partnerships or your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency.

View upcoming Child Care Partnerships’ orientation dates on page 30 of our Training Calendar.

Please note: There are certain requirements you must meet in order to become a licensed child care provider not explained here. Orientation will address these requirements in more detail. You may also visit the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services for complete licensing regulations.

 Accepting Child Care Scholarship Families

Families that are eligible to receive a child care scholarship to help pay for child care are required to use a licensed or registered child care provider. As such, licensed or registered child care providers are eligible to receive child care payments from DPHHS for any scholarship families in their care.

Check out many of the frequently asked questions providers have about working with scholarship families.

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

 A: Child Care Partnerships will send a copy of the family’s child care authorization plan to you when the family has been approved to receive a Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship. The authorization plan states the number of hours approved for care daily or weekly, the approved start and end date of care, the children authorized for care, and the co-payment amount. Please note that the start date is when the ECSB will start paying for child care costs and the end date is the last date the ECSB will pay for child care costs. The ECSB will not back pay for time the family failed to re-certify the scholarship. You will receive a new child care authorization plan if there are changes. Contact Child Care Partnerships with any questions.

Q: What do scholarship families pay me as the provider?

 A: Scholarship families are responsible to pay the co-payment on the authorization plan to you.  These co-payments are determined based upon a sliding fee scale depending on family size and gross monthly income.  Families must pay you the required co-payment and any other fees or charges that may exceed the region’s reimbursement rates or for hours not approved on the authorization plan.

Q: How am I paid for the services I provide for scholarship families?

 A: A pre-printed invoice is mailed to you each month. You receive one invoice for every eligible family in your 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 ¼ hour as it relates to approved activities. You must enter the daily attendance hours for each child and if the co-payment was received. The invoice must be completed, signed, and dated.

You must mail or deliver completed invoices to Child Care Partnerships. Invoices are due to Child Care Partnerships within 5 days following the month in which care was provided in order to be processed in the first payment cycle. Invoices expire 60 days after the month of service. If there is a problem with your payment, please contact Child Care Partnerships before 60 days after the month in question or it loses eligibility for Best Beginning Scholarship payment.

 You may charge the State based on a daily rate, which is for 6-10 hours per day, or an hourly rate that is less than 6 hours per day. There are separate rates for children below the age of two (infant rate) and for children above the age of two (child rate). The State reimburses providers serving families who are determined eligible for a Best Beginnings Scholarship.

Q: What if the child has special needs?

 A: If you have a child with a special need in your child care facility, you will need to have the parents contact their case worker at Child Care Partnerships to determine if they qualify for a Special Needs Assessment.