Governor Steve Bullock today showcased Flathead Valley Community College’s Early Childhood Center (ECC) that provides both high-quality early childhood education for preschoolers and teaching experience for students pursuing early childhood degrees.
“Montana’s first-ever investment in publicly funded preschool has already opened doors of opportunity – for the kids who will now enter kindergarten ready to learn and for teachers looking to grow in their career,” said Governor Bullock. “We are building a stronger future for Montanans, which is why we must keep working to ensure high-quality early childhood experiences are a reality in communities all across our state.”
The ECC is a lab preschool and STARS Preschool grantee that serves 20 students in the preschool classroom, as well as provides observation, student teaching, and practical experience for students pursuing FVCC’s Early Childhood Education AAS degree. As a STARS grantee, the ECC has enhanced the services they are able to provide for students with special needs, strengthened partnerships with families, and provided financial assistance for staff to pursue a P-3 education and endorsement.
Governor Bullock toured the facility, ate lunch with students, and engaged in discussion with program and staff on the benefits of high-quality early childhood education and career training for higher-education students.
This visit comes as Governor Bullock tours other STARS Preschool classrooms around the state. Last week, he visited Lewistown’s Small Wonder Child Care, and two weeks ago, he visited three classrooms in Billings, Lockwood, and Shepherd.
Governor Bullock worked with the 2017 Montana Legislature to secure the state’s first-ever investment in publicly-funded, high-quality early childhood education. HB 639 passed with bipartisan support and directs $6 million over two years to implement the STARS preschool pilot program. Until last year, Montana was one of only six states that had not invested state funds for public preschool.
Children with high-quality early learning opportunities are more likely to read at grade level, graduate from high school, and earn more money. Every $1 spent on high-quality preschool programs creates $7 in future savings to the communities and states that invest. Early interventions such as preschool result in savings down the road to the state for special education, child protection services, corrections, and safety net programs.
Governor Bullock will be asking the 2019 Montana Legislature to again secure funding for publicly-funded, high-quality early childhood education.
Visit www.starspreschool.mt.gov for more information.