BILLINGS - A new report highlights an alarming trend for Montana's early childhood development.
Local leaders listened to findings of the report compiled by the Community Development Department of the Federal Reserve at the Billings Depot on Monday.
The report detailed statistics and information about early child health and development, child care quality, access to preschool, and other indicators of success for Montana's youngest children.
Among the information in the report, the number of infants enrolled in Medicaid exposed to drugs before and after birth more than doubled from 2010 to 2016.
While Montana has seen gains in reaching low-income families with opportunities to attend high-quality early learning programs, financial hurdles loom large for many.
With more than 60% of parents of children under six in the workforce, high-quality child care is also a financial challenge.
"To provide high-quality daycare to a 4-year-old would cost more than sending a child to college," said Diana Holshue, director of the Federal Reserve's Helena branch.
"A lot of low-income families, the high percent we have in Montana at poverty rates, makes it almost impossible for them to be able to the cost of afford high-quality daycare for their children which is so life impactful," she added.
The report went on to state partnerships among state and local stakeholders, nonprofit and public agencies, foundations, and the private sector offer opportunities for innovation and progress.
Read the entire report below.?