Due to a recently announced grant, Ravalli Head Start will be able to more than double the number of children at their Hamilton and Missoula centers. Executive Director John Filz said the federal Head Start Office's Expansion and Child Care Partnership funding totals over $758,000 for operations, remodeling and start-up costs. The local Early Head Start application was in the top 10 percent for funding in the competitive grant. He said the Ravalli and Missoula County centers will be able to have 48 students instead of the current 32. The additional partnerships with local child care providers will be supplemented to meet federal Early Head Start requirements. He said Head Start is for children aged 3 to 5 and the more recently added Early Head Start is for birth age to 3. Head Start has classrooms and offices near Hamilton High School. The Early Head Start programming was introduced in 2002.

Filz, in a news release, said, "There is a clear shortage of child care spots in the 'birth to age three' group in our community. At any given time, we have between 27 and 30 babies and toddlers on our center wait list." The programs adhere to strict guidelines for education, safety, health and nutrition. Filz was especially happy to increase the Early Head Start programs. He said, "There is ample evidence that between birth and age three, there is window of opportunity to make a lasting impact on a child's outcomes in preschool and beyond."

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