Superintendent Juneau Visits New Public Preschool Class, Releases Early Learning Roadmap

Superintendent Juneau visits Ray Bjork Learning Center in Helena.

Superintendent Juneau visits Ray Bjork Learning Center in Helena.

HELENA, Mont. – Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau today visited one of Montana’s first public preschool classrooms and released an early learning roadmap to help schools integrate the ideas of Graduation Matters Montana into developing preschool programs.

“All Montana children should have access to free, high-quality preschool because early learning is critical for ensuring our youngest students are ready for kindergarten and a lifetime of success,” Superintendent Juneau said. “Families in 16 high-needs communities were able to access free public preschool last year, and this year we will expand that to 34 communities.”

Montana is one of 18 states to receive a federal grant to develop high-quality preschool programs. Montana will receive $10 million each year for four years to develop a workforce of preschool teachers, build high-quality programs, and make preschool accessible to more families.

The 2015/16 school year was the first year of implementation of the grant. Sixteen communities and more than 650 children from low-to-moderate income families had access to preschool. This year, we expect to double the number of classrooms and will impact 34 communities.

The Montana Early Learning Roadmap offers concrete examples of how local school districts, preschool providers, Head Start programs and other are coming together to expand early learning opportunities in communities across the state. The Roadmap is a guide on how to embed the ideas of Graduation Matters Montana into early childhood learning as preschool programs are developed.

Click here to read the Early Learning Roadmap. Click here to read the Montana Preschool Program Guidelines.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT PRESCHOOL IN MONTANA

  • Montana is one of nine states without state-funded preschool (NIEER/NPR)
  • The Montana Preschool Development Grant also pays for adults to earn a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, early childhood minor, or P-3 endorsement. There are currently 152 people enrolled in Montana colleges/universities through the grant.
  • During the 2016/17 school year, families in 34 communities will be impacted by high-quality preschool programs: Anaconda, Browning, Heart Butte, Butte, Lewistown, Roundup, Harlowton, Crow Agency, Lodge Grass, Pryor, St. Ignatius, Ronan, Pablo, Arlee, Hays-Lodge Pole, Harlem, Wolf Point, Frazer, Poplar, Great Falls, Hardin, Bozeman, Livingston, Belgrade, Kalispell, Libby, Troy, Eureka, Boulder, Helena, East Helena, Whitehall, Townsend, Rocky Boy.
  • Families at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level or who are eligible for special education, could qualify. For a family of four, 200 percent of poverty is the annual income of $60,625.
  • Ninety percent of brain development happens before a child is 5-years-old.
  • Children who don’t attend preschool are 25 percent more likely to drop out of high school.
  • The average cost of childcare for a Montana 4-year-old is more than $7,500, which can be a large chunk of income.