More than 400 education professionals are attending the Montana Preschool Development Grant (MPDG) Summer Institute Conference in Helena this week.
The conference examines the continued development and support of preschool education in the state.
Attendees will receive professional learning opportunities in several areas such as child guidance, family and community engagement, and learning environments.
The conference is a partnership between the Montana Office of Public Instruction and Department of Public Health and Human Services. Both departments agree that early childhood development is paramount for future student success.
DPHHS said data indicates that 90% of brain development occurs before a child is five years old. According to OPI, children who don't attend preschool are 25 percent more likely to drop out of high school.
Superintendent of Libby Schools Craig Barringer said that the emphasis on early education at the conference is “right on target.”
“What research is telling us is the most impact we can have on a kid’s learning is at ages 3 to 5 and no better way to get them off to a good start in school,” Barringer said.
Now in its third year, the MPDG provides $10 million every year to Montana schools.
In order for schools to qualify for the grant, they must meet federal requirements such as teachers possessing a bachelor’s degree in education, full day program, and the Montana Learning Standards curriculum.
Children living in families that are 200 percent below the federal poverty line or are eligible for special education, qualify to attend an MPDG program.
For more information about MPDG Preschool Programs in your area, visit Montana OPI's website.