The Early Childhood Education: P-3 and Leadership Financial Assistance Project

The goal of the project is to build early childhood teacher and leadership capacity in Montana through financial assistance to individuals pursuing course work leading to the new Montana ECE: P-3 teacher endorsement or an early childhood master’s degree.  Financial assistance will be awarded through an application process on a priority/eligibility basis with Preschool Development Grant targeted programs and communities in the higher priorities.  Please click here for more information regarding priority/eligibility criteria, the application process, and assistance details.

The project was created through the federal Preschool Development Grant. The Financial Assistance Project is a collaboration between the Office of Public Instruction, the Department of Public Health and Human Services Early Childhood Services Bureau, MSU’s Early Childhood Project, the Montana Early Childhood Higher Education Consortium, and Montana institutions of higher education that are regionally accredited. If you have questions regarding college coursework or degree plans, please contact the university you intend to enroll in. See college contacts list below to help you connect with the right person. Applications will be available here approximately two months prior to each semester or quarter.

New applicants are no longer being accepted. Please see application instructions to determine priority levels and who is eligible to renew.

P-3 Leadership Assistance-University/College Contacts

Registry AWARDS

Practitioner Registry Renewal AWARD
This AWARD is designed to reward individuals who remain current with the Registry over time.  Individuals who complete annual consecutive renewals with The Registry for the second time and every other year thereafter (up to ten years) will be eligible for this award. You must be a Level 2 or higher on the Career Path to be eligible to receive the $100 or $200 AWARD.

When should I apply? 
You may apply when you received your certificate with 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 diamonds.  There will be an accompanying letter with more detailed information in your certificate packet. 

How do I request my AWARD Payment?
You will need to complete the Registry Renewal AWARD application and W-9 located in the green boxes on right and mail or email to the ECP within 90 days of the day you receive your certificate. You will be notified by email if your application is approved or denied.

Practitioner Registry Achievement AWARD
This award is designed to reward early childhood practitioners who are currently on the Registry and move up to a Level 4 or beyond on the Career Path.  Level 4 is the first level on the Career Path that requires an early childhood college course of study.  To be eligible, one must complete early childhood courses and move up after January 2011. 

When should I apply?
When you move up to a Level 4 or higher on the Registry and have worked 12 consecutive months at your new Level in a state licensed or registered early childhood program, you may apply for this AWARD.  You will need to verify your employment from the date that your new level was verified. Remember to renew on time each year so you don't miss out! 

How do I request my AWARD payment?
You will need to complete the application, W-9, and Employment Verification form located in the Forms box and mail or email to the ECP within 90 days after your year of employment. You will be notified by email if your application is approved or denied.

Professional Development Incentive Awards (PDIA)

Professional Development Incentive Award
The purpose of these awards is to offer incentives to early childhood practitioners who complete specific tracks of early childhood professional development/training options designed to impact the quality of early care and education for young children and their families.

Note: Individuals may not retake/duplicate trainings to receive this award. If an individual has a training in any of the PDIA tracks on their record two or more times the award WILL NOT be approved.

The Health and Safety Track was discountinued as of 1/1/2017.


Professional Development Incentive Award-Higher Ed
The Professional Development Incentive Award – Higher Ed promotes early childhood education college coursework, certificate and degree programs.  You may apply for the award after you complete a semester or quarter of early childhood course work that leads to a degree or minor or endorsement in early childhood education. You may choose from one of two tracks: $400 for the completion of 2-5 credits per semester and $1,000 for the completion of a minimum of 6 credits per semester. 

What do I need to be eligible for this award?
You must be CURRENT on the Practitioner Registry at the time you submit for the award after the completion of your coursework each semester or quarter.
You must also be working in a state licensed or registered program, a Montana Head Start or Tribal Head Start, or a Montana Child Care Resource and Referral Agency for at least 15 hours per week.

When should I apply?
After successful completion of the semester submit the application and other documents to the ECP. Applications will be posted and due back to the ECP on the following schedule after each semester:  Fall semester -  the third week of December and due the first week of February; Spring semester - the third week of May and due the first week of July; and  Summer semester -  the third week of August due the first week of October. The specific deadline date for each semester will be stated on the application. If you are a student at Salish Kootenai College on a quarter system, please contact the ECP at The applications will be available in the Applications Box on the right of the Incentives and Awards page of the ECP website.  

The ECP must receive the following items via mail by 4:00 pm on the date stated on the application for each semester:

    • The PDIA-HE application
    • A  W-9 form
    • A copy of your transcript that includes your name, institution name, the early childhood degree, major and/or minor you are pursuing and your semester grades.

When will I recieve notification of the award and payment?
The ECP will send you an email about the approval or denial of your application within 5 business days of the deadline for each semester.  
You should receive a payment check from the Early Childhood Services Bureau who processes  the checks within 6-8 weeks of your notification email.

CDA, NAEYC and NAFCC Scholarships
These three scholarships support the completion of a national credential or program accreditation. 

What do I need to be eligible?
All three scholarships require you to be current on the Practitioner Registry. 

When do I apply?
Plan ahead and apply to the ECP for any of the following scholarships at least six weeks prior to submitting your materials to the appropriate organization.

Child Development Associate (CDA) Assessment Scholarship
This scholarship pays for the CDA assessment fee of $425.00 (and the renewal assessment fee of $150.00) awarded when you apply to the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition in Washington, D.C.. The ECP makes the payment on your behalf directly to the council when you are awarded this scholarship. 

When do I apply?   
A CDA often requires up to two or more years of preparation time. After you have completed all CDA requirements and are ready to apply for assessment to the council, you may apply for the scholarship.

For more information about the CDA credential, go to

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. 

When do I apply?
You may when you are beginning the process of accreditation.

For more information about NAFCC accreditation, visit

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.

The Montana application for initial and renewal scholarships requests itemization of all accreditation costs. Please contact NAEYC to verify the costs of accreditation for your program.

When do I apply?
When you begin the application process with NAEYC.

For more information about NAEYC accreditation visit

Early Childhood Project-MSU
PO Box 173540
Bozeman, MT 59717

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