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Montana Health Department Creates New Early Childhood Division

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

The state health department is changing how its programs for kids and families collaborate. Health officials announced Friday those services will now fall under the new Early Childhood and Family Support Division. 

State programs within Early Childhood Services, Child Care Licensing, No Kid Hungry, and others focusing on children and families will now all be under the same division within the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Jamie Palagi is the head of the new division. She says people receiving services won’t notice the change.

“Programs will still continue to do what they do. They’ll still be serving people as they are now. But hopefully over time we’ll do that in a more coordinated and seamless way,” Palagi said. 

State Representative Mary Caferro, a Democrat from Helena,  agrees this move could improve Montana’s early childhood system. She says it can be difficult for people to know where to find the help they need.

“The average person, how do you know where to go to do what is in the best interest of your children. So that’s the current layout. And by putting everything together, you’re putting all the pieces of the puzzle together under one roof,” Caferro said. 

Sheila Hogan, director of the state health department, says organizing these programs under the new division will make them more efficient.

Corin Cates-Carney is the news director at Montana Public Radio. He joined MTPR in 2015 and is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism.