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Apr 2, 2024

Early Childhood Changemakers of Western Montana

Week of the Young Child (April 6-12) is a national celebration that focuses public attention on the needs of young children and their families and recognizes the early childhood programs that meet those needs. As a funder deeply committed to improving the health of kids and families in Western Montana, we are taking this opportunity to spotlight some incredible efforts happening in our region.

In 2018, Headwaters Foundation proudly seed-funded an early childhood initiative that includes seven locally-led, county-based collaboratives across Western Montana and a statewide advocacy office in Helena. In this blog, we share how these changemakers are uniquely contributing to the wellbeing of Montana’s youngest residents and their families. Click 🎥 to watch a mini documentary sharing more of their story!

Beaverhead County Cultivates Community Connections

In Dillon, Montana, the Early Childhood Coalition of Beaverhead County created an indoor play space/community hub for parents and families, where they offer parenting classes, a kids’ gear exchange, and other programming that supports families. Most recently, they have partnered with senior centers to offer story times, expanding their vision to be intergenerational, supporting kids, families and seniors alike. 🎥  

Butte-Silverbow County Supports Foster Families

Silverbow County has some of the highest rates of kids in foster care in the state. Zero to Five Butte-Silverbow responded with an ambitious goal: to reduce the number of kids in foster care by 75% by 2025. To get there, they offer programs that support foster and biological parents and others involved in the foster care system and undertake projects to make Butte a great place to raise a family. 🎥

Flathead and Lake Counties Build Playgrounds

Zero to Five of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County aims to create environments where young children can thrive. They are developing outdoor play spaces that bring families together, encourage physical activity, promote intergenerational bonds, nurture community culture, and enhance health outcomes. Their goal: 3 outdoor play areas installed on the reservation by fall 2025.

Lewis and Clark County Amplifies Stories

The Early Childhood Collaborative of the Greater Helena Area orchestrates community efforts for better early childhood outcomes. To deepen community support for young families, they launched an education campaign around Week of the Young Child to spotlight services available to families and raise awareness of early childhood issues. Amplify their messages via Facebook and Instagram!

Lincoln County Takes Family Support on the Road

In line with their goal to ‘reach every kid in every corner of Lincoln County,’ Zero to Five Lincoln County launched a Resource Van. The van will help them travel to visit communities and attend and participate in events like farmers markets. They’ll bring and share resources, including information on WIC services, lactation support, maternal and newborn health education, as well as car seats, books, toys and activities for children.  🎥

Mineral County Nurtures Families Through Schools

Understanding the central role of the public school system in family life, Family Connections Collaborative in Mineral County integrated parent liaisons into schools to involve families in their kids’ academic success and offer resources to those who need them. This has resulted in stronger communications, empowered parents and improved wellbeing and education for children, in the classroom and at home. 🎥

Missoula County Sparks Parent Leadership

Zero to Five Missoula County is working to transform caring parents into community leaders through their Parent Leadership Training Institute. This nationally recognized, anti-racist program in civics and personal empowerment helps parents advocate for their children and all children. By training cohorts of 25 parents annually, they are building a more engaged and informed community. 🎥

Zero to Five Montana Tackles Policy

Zero to Five Montana is the statewide advocacy office and a unifier of the early childhood network. They work to build bipartisan support for early childhood in our state, and have been successful in facilitating partnerships across sectors, including state agencies, businesses and education. Their collaborative approach elevated early childhood during the last legislative session, resulting in policy wins like HB 287. 🎥

Get Involved!

If we work side-by-side, we can create a brighter, healthier future for the youngest members of our communities. No matter where you reside in Montana, you can get involved! To learn more about Zero to Five and plug into efforts in your community, visit