The Montana Early Childhood Project is dedicated to improving the quality of early care and education services for young children and their families, by providing an integrated professional development system to build a knowledgeable, competent and stable early childhood workforce. 

Key Components of Early Care and Education Career Development

  • The Montana Early Care and Education Knowledge Base that defines what practitioners need to know, be able to do, and understand to improve and enhance their work with young children and families
  • The Career Path and Practitioner Registry outline a formalized multi-leveled education and training framework for the early childhood profession
  • Montana Early Learning Guidelines (Birth – Five) development
  • The Professional Development Specialist Framework defines three levels of qualifications for trainers to be approved to provide early childhood training based upon best practices in adult learning principles with a foundation in early childhood development and learning
  • The Professional Development Approval System provides a process for training development, review and approval to ensure high quality learning opportunities for practitioners
  • The Statewide Training Calendar that identifies professional development opportunities offered across the state that are available to all practitioners
  • Incentives and awards both for early childhood program improvement and for the early childhood workforce
  • Recognition of practitioners’ professional development and educational achievements through The Registry certification process to promote increased compensation for the field and information that may be shared with employers and families
  • Collaboration with other early childhood initiatives and efforts to create a comprehensive early childhood system in Montana to serve young children and their families.
  • Early Childhood Higher Education

    Are you interested in taking college courses in early childhood?  Montana has a variety of higher education programs in early childhood education and child development that will help you receive a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, a 30-credit Early Childhood Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, or Ph.D degree. You may search for classes by visiting this Montana University System website http://mus.edu/ and click on Find a Program. For a link to the current Early Childhood education courses offered in Montana visit https://ccn.mus.edu/search/

    Watch out!  There are a multitude of online degree programs being marketed. Many programs are NOT regionally accredited and the credits you receive may not count on the Career Path or be recognized by other institutions. To find out if a program is regionally accredited you can visit http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/ or contact the Early Childhood Project for guidance.

    Need Assistance Paying for College?
    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a federally funded program to help individuals receive grants and loans, visit www.fafsa.ed.gov for more information.  Be sure to check with your school's Financial Aid office for other options.

    The ECP sponsors the Early Childhood Higher Education Consortium comprised of early childhood faculty from across Montana. The group addresses key issues related to career development. 

    Montana Early Childhood Apprenticeship Program: Child Care Development Specialist

    The Montana Early Childhood Apprenticeship Program (MECAP) is a training program for people in the field of early care and education that includes on-the-job training with the support of a mentor and college-level classroom instruction. 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. For more information contact the Early Childhood Project

    Continuum of Training and Education

    The Montana Early Care and Education Career Path outlines steps to move forward with your education and training in early childhood education. The path was developed to help early childhood educators (caregivers, teachers, aides, assistant teachers, providers and others) see achievable steps to career advancement.

    It is focused on individuals who have chosen to work directly with children in early childhood programs, such as child care, preschools, Head Start and Early Head Start or who work on behalf of young children and families in community-based or statewide agencies and organizations providing support services, professional development, and early childhood education at the college level.

    The Statewide Training Calendar helps you find training and education sponsored by community-based Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, other training sponsors, and higher education institutions in your area that relates to the MT Early Care and Education Knowledge Base. All training on the calendar has been reviewed and approved through the Early Childhood Project at MSU and will be recognized for required annual training hours for child care licensing, The Practitioner Registry (Montana’s early childhood education workforce recognition and certification system), and Montana's STARS to Quality program. Special statewide professional development events and conferences are also listed that may be of interest to early childhood professionals.

    Montana has developed an array of options to help you learn more about health, safety and well-being, child growth and development and how to support young children’s growth and learning while working closely with families. Training is approved through the Early Childhood Project’s Professional Development Approval System that will count for Registry and child care licensing training requirements. Early childhood course work being completed through a regionally accredited college or university will also count for annual training hours.

    MT Director Credential

    Apply for the Montana Early Childhood Program Director Credential to be recognized for your leadership and specialized professional development. Visit the link below to learn more about the three levels of the credential and how to apply.
    Director Credential Framework and Instructions
    Professional Contributions

    Career Advising

    Contact the ECP for specific questions about careers in early care and education.