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We're sure you would agree that it's possible to cut the lawn with a pair of scissors. Of course it's easier if we have the right tools, like a lawn mower. We feel the same about providing the "Best Beginnings" for our children. It's a lot easier if we have the right tools. This guide was developed to help ensure that we all have access to the right tools for early childhood development.

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids was developed by the Missoula Best Beginnings Council under the guiding principles established following a two-year needs assessment conducted with funding from the Montana Best Beginnings and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Grants. The assessment uncovered the need for a centralized access to resources connected to early childhood development and school readiness. The Missoula Best Beginnings Council has been in existence since 2011 and consists of representatives from many of the featured service providers within this guide. The Council has worked hard to help ensure that this Missoula County Early-Childhood Resource Guide allows families to easily access our community's wonderful resources. Although we strived for a comprehensive guide, we understand that it is nearly impossible to include every resource our rich community has to offer. Our goal is that, through this guide, you are able to connect to area agencies or programs which provide you valuable information and resources to help you, your family and/or friends. We encourage you to share this guide with others.

- The Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Contents Organizations within this guide, with a few exceptions, are in alphabetical order.

Organization / Page Title

Page Number Organization / Page Title

How to use this guide


Missoula Rich Resources


A.W.A.R.E. 6 Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) 7

Page Number

Missoula Children’s Museum Families First (part of the Children’s Museum) Missoula City-County Health Department

28 29 30

Missoula Public Library


Child Care Resources


Missoula County Public Schools


Child Care Checklist


Missoula Early Head Start


Child Development Center


Child Start Inc. - Head Start


Missoula County Elementary School Listings

34 & 35

Co-Teach Preschool Program


The Forum - Missoula Forum for Children and Youth

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program



Montana Food Bank Network


Mothers’ Milk Bank


Mountain Home Montana


Nurse-Family Partnership


The Parenting Place


Parents As Leaders – (WORD)


Planned Parenthood of Montana


Parents Lets Unite for Kids (PLUK)


Rite Care Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic


Turning the Wheel


Women, Infants and Children (WIC)




Full Circle Counseling Solutions, LLC 14 Futures at Women’s Opportunity and Resource Development (WORD) 15 Immunization Clinic


The Learning and Belonging Preschool (LAB)


Everyday Words (10 Tips for Parents) The Lifelong Learning Center The Lotus Project

18 & 19 20 21

Missoula Association for the Education of Young Children (MAEYC)


Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition


Kid's Page (Fun Activities for Kids)

24 & 25

Your Energy Fix


Silver Summit A Playground for Everyone

26 & 27

Missoula Family YMCA


Message from the Missoulian


Our Sponsors


Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

H o w to u s e th i s g u i de Each organization has its own page with a similar layout to the page below.

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The Organization

Information about the organization and the services it offers

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4 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

M is s ou l a Rich Re s ou r ce s An online, expanded version, of this guide is available. Please visit for the online version of The Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids Early Childhood Resource Guide. Please help us help our community; we are always looking to improve our level of service and we would love to hear from you. To help enhance the overall impact of this resource guide and future services from the Missoula Best Beginnings Council, please complete a short survey available at For information about the Montana State Best Beginnings Advisory Council and other Best Beginnings Councils throughout the State of Montana, please vist the Montana Department of Health and Human Services Website at:

Message from the Developer: The Missoula Best Beginnings Council is a very special group with some amazing organizations and people who are all working very hard for our youngest citizens. I hope this guide serves you well and allows you the greatest oppertunity to connect with some of the powerful resources our community has to offer. Before you discard this guide, please pass it on to someone who may benefit from its information. Thank you.

- Steve E. Schmidt Missoula Forum for Children and Youth

Special Thanks to the following Superheros who helped make this guide possible Missoula City-County Health Department (Funding the Printing) The Missoula Forum for Children and Youth Missoula City-County Grants and Community Programs (Supporting The Forum) The Missoula Best Beginnings Council (Providing the Content and Editing) Thea Olsen (Graphic Design, Initial Layout and Survey Development) Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 5

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids


2300 Regent Street Suite 103 Missoula, MT 59801 (406) 543-2202

AWARE Inc. is a private, non-profit corporation that provides support to people who are in need of physical, mental, or emotional support. AWARE is committed to early intervention and early childhood development. AWARE’s Successful Starts, an early childhood mental health program, is a collaborative partnership with Head Start and Early Head Start programs around the state and the early childhood community. It is a comprehensive, integrated approach to preventing, identifying, and treating early childhood social, emotional, and behavioral concerns, ultimately improving the social emotional outcomes for young children, and thus school readiness. AWARE Successful Starts provides a continuum of services that offers families support and intervention depending on their level of need. AWARE’s wraparound approach to total family care includes support for a child and family in the home, child support in the classroom or childcare setting and case management. Psychiatric and disabilities services are also available.

Top 5 books that support social emotional development and that children LOVE 1. Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems 2. The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn 3. Today I Feel Silly, by Jamie Lee Curtis 4. Sad Monster, Glad Monster, a book about feelings, by Ed Emberley and Anne Miranda 5. Leave me Alone! A tale of what happens when you stand up to a bully, by Kes Gray and Lee Wildish 6 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

CATCH - Coordinated Approach to Child Health CATCH stands for Coordinated Approach to Child Health. CATCH is a multi-component coordinated school health program that builds an alliance of parents, teachers, child nutrition personnel, school staff, and community partners to teach children and their families how to be healthy for a lifetime. Providence St. Patrick Hospital has adopted the evidence-based program because research has shown it prevents childhood obesity. CATCH is based in pre-K, elementary, and middle schools, and helps children improve their knowledge and practice of healthful eating and physical activity habits. It is successful because it is truly a coordinated approach and, most importantly, fun.

Saint Patrick Hospital 500 West Broadway Missoula, MT 59802 (406) 328-5759

As part of St. Patrick Hospital's mission and community outreach efforts, it offers the CATCH Program at no cost to schools, afterschool programs, community recreation programs, and other organizations that work with school-aged children. Implementing the CATCH Program is easy. A CATCH coordinator will visit your site to help formulate a plan for teaching the curriculum in the classroom and in PE classes, making changes to breakfast and lunch menus, and organizing family events.

For more information, please visit:

Fun Family Snow Activities 1. Create a snowman or snow animal and decorate with colorful vegetables and fruit. 2. Build a snow castle using sand toys and kitchen pans. Decorate your creations with pine cones and food coloring. 3. Play freeze tag. When someone is tagged, they have to stay frozen until tagged again. 4. Break out the rubber beach toys to slip and slide and inner tube race. 5. Fill water bottles with food coloring and water to decorate the snow with graffiti. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 7

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Child Care Resources Child Care Resources helps low-income parents pay for child care and offers information about how to choose quality child care. Additionally, Child Care Resources offers training/coaching to child care providers to help them deliver high-quality services. This includes coaching about how to care for children with special needs and how to address challenging behavior. Child Care Resources also provides meal reimbursements to support part of the cost of nutritious meals served in child care. 105 East Pine, Lower Level Missoula, MT 59801 (406) 728-6446

To Grow a Life-Long Learner 1. Emphasize experiences and effort, not only performance. When children are praised for their "smarts," they become more likely to try new things, or to stick with challenges. 2. Read with your child - from the earliest ages to well after they can read alone. 3. Discover new things as a family - and let your child share the discoveries. Road trip planning, learning a new language or instrument together, trying new recipes - all are opportunities to experience learning together. 4. Turn off the screens. Creativity and exploration happens in the physical world as well as the digital, and this helps build their "creative muscles." 5. Practice saying "I don't know, but let's find out" - then do it, together. 8 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council


It's your child's safety and well-being that are important. Search online for "Childcare Checklist" to find additional important information. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 9

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

C h i l d D e ve l o p m e n t C e n t e r

3335 Lt. Moss Road Missoula, MT 59804 (406) 549-6413 800-914-1779

The Child Development Center (CDC) is a non-profit agency that has supported children and families in Western Montana for nearly 40 years. CDC serves children with developmental delays and at risk for developmental delays, as well as children diagnosed with autism. Services include evaluation and diagnosis, family education, support and coordination of services and community resources. CDC services also include a Neonatal ICU follow-up service and a respite house that offers day and overnight respite services for children. CDC prides itself on comprehensive knowledge and expertise related to child development. The Center focuses on homebased services, which incorporate interventions into daily routines, and offers a family-centered approach that empowers parents to improve their children’s lives. Most services are free to families. CDC has offices in Missoula, Kalispell and Bozeman and a satellite office in Hamilton.

TEACH CHILDREN ABOUT CHARITY AND GIVING To help make charity and charitable giving a habit, try a few kid-appropriate strategies. 1. Make birthdays charitable. At your child's next party, ask guests to bring a gift of a book (new or used) to be donated to a local charity. Involve the birthday boy or girl in the decision about where to donate the books. When you deliver the books, take pictures or video and revisit the event on future birthdays. 2. Share nutrition. Around the holidays, put together food baskets and give to a needy family suggested by a church, school or local social service agency. Let the children take part in selecting food and treats, and decorate the basket together. If appropriate, have the children participate in delivering the basket. 3. Include your pets. Buy dog or cat food or other pet necessities and take it to the humane society or shelter. When delivering the donation, allow the children to spend some time with the four-legged recipients of the gift. 4. Donate clothes and toys. Periodically, with the change of season for example, go through closets and find gently used clothing to donate. Encourage the children to do the same. Allow them to choose which pieces they would like to donate and bring them along when dropping off the items. 10 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Child Start, Inc. - Head Start Child Start Inc. is a single purpose, federally funded program that promotes school readiness for children between the ages three to five from low-income families. The program serves 336 children and their families and works to enhance their social, cognitive, and emotional development in addition to providing them with a school readiness curriculum. Child Start, Inc. services are designed to be responsive to each child and the family’s ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage.

Whittier School 1001 Worden Avenue Missoula, MT 59802

Missoula center-based options are located at: 1. Whittier School* 2. Valley Christian School

(406) 728-5460

*This program also offers two full-day classrooms for parents who work full time and/or attend school. The hours of operation for the full-day program are Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Part-day options offer half-day classes in either the morning or afternoons. Children attending in the morning receive breakfast and lunch. Children attending in the afternoon receive lunch and a snack. The home-based option is provided to families residing in Granite, Mineral, Powell and Sanders Counties. This option provides weekly home visits by teachers with the visits focusing on child development and parent-child interactions. The program works closely with many of the local clinics and doctors who provide dental checks and physicals.

Additional Resources Parent's, Let's Unite for Kids (PLUK) Represents 30,000 families of children with disabilities and special needs

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Text4baby - a free mobile information service. Contact them by texting: BABY to 511411

Montana Department of Health and Human Services Healthy Montana Kids Free or low cost health coverage for kids

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Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Co-Teach Preschool Program

Co-Teach Preschool Program Institute for Educational Research and Service College of Education and Human Sciences The University of Montana 32 Campus Drive Missoula, MT 59812


Co-Teach is a National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited, inclusive preschool program at the University of Montana that serves children with diverse abilities and their families. The mission of Co-Teach is to offer children a high quality, stimulating, and playful first school experience in order to prepare them academically and socially for kindergarten and the years to follow. It values diverse abilities, cultural backgrounds, and family structures and believes that all children and families' unique histories and experiences matter. Co-Teach embraces a collaborative teaching model that promotes positive relationships while guiding children in their development of healthy behaviors and social emotional competence. Applications are accepted year round for children ages 3-5. Enrollment is first-come, first-serve. If you are considering enrolling your child, or have questions about the program, please contact: Andrea Holmes, (406)243-6445

5 ways Caregivers Build Resiliency in Young Children 1. Take Care of Yourself. When you are calm and in control of your own emotional experience, you are able to be there for your child. Taking deep breaths,finding space when you need it and making sure you have support is essential. 2. Consistent Response. Share your expectations for behavior with your child that focus on what you want to see. When caregivers have the same expectations, children feel safe and learn boundaries. 3. Routines. Routines (during bedtimes, mealtime, toileting, etc.) teach your children that they can depend on the caregiver and their environment. They know what is coming, and this can help them transition smoothly from one thing to the next. 4. Attunement. Think of this as being a feeling's detective. Noticing "cues" such as your child’s body language, tone of voice, activity level and changes in behavior can help you understand the meaning behind their behaviors and respond, versus react. It also helps your child feel understood. 5. Self-Regulation. Helping your child manage the highs and lows of their emotional experiences will enable them to build strong and healthy relationships and effectively communicate and understand what’s going on inside. These are skills that will set them up for a lifetime of success. 12 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

The F or u m

T h e M i s s o u l a F o r u m fo r C h i l d r e n an d Y o u t h

The Missoula Forum for Children and Youth is a program of the Missoula City-County Department of Grants and Community Programs. It provides networking and training opportunities to an alliance of prevention workgroups, agencies and individuals united by a common mission: To build and maintain a supportive environment of collaborative and proactive work to help Missoula grow healthy and resilient children and youth.

223 West Alder Missoual, MT 59802 (406) 258-3020

Three workgroups operate under the umbrella of The Forum: • Missoula Underage Substance Abuse and Prevention (MUSAP) • Youth Development Network (YDN) • Missoula Best Beginnings Council (MBBC)

The Forum develops community-wide strategies that reduce risk factors, enhance protective factors and promote positive youth development.

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Fun Websites for Parents and Kids 1. - Education, tips, activities and resources galore 2. - Information and answers for new parents 3. - Forts, airplanes and more (Good for girls, too!) 4. - Family games and fun activities for kids 5. - Fun online games, activites and videos to help kids learn

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Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

F u l l Ci r c l e Co u n s e l i n g S o l u ti o n s , l l c .

Missoula County 1903 Russell Street Missoula, MT 59801 Phone: (406) 532-1615 Ravalli County 112 Houk Lane Stevensville, MT 59870 Phone: (406) 273-1684

Full Circle is a licensed mental health center and a qualified developmental disabilities services provider serving Missoula and Ravalli Counties. The agency offers family-based mental health services, school-based mental health services, autism and developmental services, and evaluation and diagnostic services. It offers support and services to help improve the lives of children and their families by following the family’s lead, and also working in partnership with the community to provide services. These services occur in the family’s home, at school, in the community, at the center's play and learning space, or in an office setting. It serves children, adolescents, and adults working to help them learn to manage their emotions and behavior. Clients receive help to learn new skills to be successful (examples: play and leisure skills together with social, language and self-help skills). Families also learn strategies to encourage children’s positive behavior and development. Staff includes Licensed Mental Health professionals, Family Support Specialists, Care Coordinators and Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA). All payment sources are accepted including Medicaid, private insurance, and Healthy Montana Kids.

Behavioral Supports 1. Focus on positive behaviors from children. Be clear about expected behaviors you want to see and verbalize what you WANT them to do and not what you DON’T want them to do. Instead of saying “don’t hit your brother,” you could say “we use safe hands with brother” -- and show/model for them what safe hands look like. 2. Provide choices. Make sure children have several options to give them a feeling of control over tricky situations. When you know a child is going to have a hard time ending an activity, you could say “It’s time to leave the playground -- do you want to run or skip to the car;" or “It’s time to clean up your art project -- do you want to put it in the big bag"; or “I see you are really mad -- do you want to sit on my lap or on the beanbag chair to calm down?” 3. Use praise and rewards. Children respond to positive reinforcement with positive behaviors. The praise is specific to the behavior that you are seeing, such as saying “You played very nicely with your toy and waited for me while I had to talk on the phone -- nice job.” 4. Plan ahead. Create situations and environments that help children know what is expected. For example when you know you are going to grocery shop, make sure your child has activities to occupy his time and make it successful. For example, he could play “I Spy” in the store with you, bring books to look at in the cart while you shop, or help you find the items you will need for dinner. Before you go shopping, you can remind your child of the rules in the store such as “Walk,” “Stay by Dad,” “Use inside voice,” etc. 5. Acknowledge emotions. Helping children understand what they are feeling may help to prevent a tantrum before it begins. Using phrases such as these may be helpful: “You look like you are frustrated Let’s figure this out together;” “Your frown tells me you are not happy. Want a hug?”; “I hear a mad voice. I bet you might be mad because I won’t let you go outside right now -- let’s find something else to do.” 14 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Futures at

Women's Opportunity and R e s o u r c e D e ve l o p m e n t ( W O R D )

“Working together to build a secure future for young parents and their children” Eligibility: Futures is a free and voluntary program that is open to all young mothers and fathers. Eligibility requirements: To be pregnant or parenting and 21 years old or younger. Contact Thomas or Dacia at 543-3550 to learn more or enroll in the program, or drop by the Young Family Resource Center, which is open Monday through Thursday, noon – 5:00 p.m. Futures can help you: • Complete your education and plan for a career; • Improve your employment skills; • Access community resources that help your family; • Find safe and stable housing; • Connect with other young parents; • Feel confident and supported as a parent; and, • Build your skills in all areas of life.

Women’s Opportunity and Resource Development, Inc. 1124 Cedar Street Missoula, MT 59802 (406) 543-3550

Tips to Promote Social Emotional Health for Young Children 1. Catch your child being good! Praise your child often for small things like helping to pick-up or waiting her turn. 2. Find ways, everyday, to do activities that you both enjoy. Talk, sing, tell stories, and take time to delight in your child. Remember to reconnect for a few moments after separations. 3. Keep routines including family meals when parents and children can sit down together and talk about their day. Play the “high-low” game by taking turns sharing the best and not-so good parts of the day. 4. Seek ways for your child to play with other children his age. 5. Be consistent with setting limits for your child. Do this firmly but kindly. Validate feelings and encourage learning when mistakes are made. Model behaviors that you want to see in your child. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 15

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Immunization Clinic The Missoula City-County Health Department's Walk-In Immunization Clinic is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and Wednesdays 10:00 a.m. 4:30 p.m., and is staffed with expert nurses who can help you decide what vaccines are appropriate for you or your children.

301 West Alder Street Missoula, MT 59802 (406) 258-4745

The Clinic offers all the routine Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended vaccines across a person's lifespan. It is able to bill most insurance companies and offers a sliding fee scale for uninsured children. By appointment, the clinic offers pre-travel counseling and health advice as well as travel vaccines and prescriptions related to adults and children who are planning on traveling outside of the United States. The Clinic is a certified Yellow Fever vaccination site. Please call 258-3363 to schedule your travel appointment. The Clinic's knowledgeable nurses can also provide TB testing, blood draws to check for antibodies (titers) in a blood sample, lice checks, lead screening, urine pregnancy tests as well as referrals to other community resources.

Visit our website for more information:

Fast Flu Tips 1. Get your flu shot. 2. Don’t like needles? Get the flu mist nasal spray (ages 2-49). 3. Wash your hands often. 4. Stay home if you’re sick. 5. Cover your cough. 16 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

The Learning and Belonging P r e s c h o o l ( L AB ) The Lab Pre-School is a nationally accredited, multi-age early childhood program that invites children of all abilities and their families to participate in a caring community designed to promote lifelong learning and the joys of belonging. This model early childhood program is housed in the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences and provides academic course support, resources, mentoring, and key practicum learning experiences for students enrolled in teacher education and other degree programs at the University of Montana. The Pre-School offers morning and afternoon sessions during the academic year. Small class sizes and high adult-to-child ratios provide individualized education experiences available to all children between the ages of 3-5 within the greater Missoula community. Families pay an annual tuition that is based on the market rate for local early care and education programs. Those receiving Best Beginnings scholarships through Child Care Resources are encouraged to apply.

Phyllis J. Washington College of Education & Human Sciences 32 Campus Drive Missoula, MT 59812 (406) 243-4262


Early Childhood Development 1. Cognitive, language, social and physical skills progress when children engage in play. Quality early childhood programs recognize this important component of education and facilitate play opportunities that lead to competent and confident minds. 2. Reading with young children is incredibly important. Sharing the joy of books fosters relationships, enhances knowledge, advances language development and encourages young readers and writers. 3. Preschool age children learn best when they feel safe, when learning activities reflect their individual interests, and when they have opportunities to investigate, create and play. 4. High-quality preschool programs value relationships and foster a sense of community where children, families and teachers grow and learn together. 5. To meet the developmental needs of young children, teachers-in-training programs should have supervised hands-on learning experiences in high quality programs along with their early childhood coursework. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 17

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Everyday Words You can use these everyday phrases to instill confidence, self-respect, and thoughtfulness in your children. THANK YOU. It's important to acknowledge your child's efforts to help you or others. You might say: "Thanks for helping me look for that missing sock" or "Thanks for setting the table; I got the salad made while you were doing that."

TELL ME MORE. Words like these show your child that you are listening and that you would like to hear more about what's on her mind. "Tell me more" encourages conversation without passing judgment or giving immediate advice - two responses that discourage further communication from your child.

YOU CAN DO IT. Your expression of confidence in your child's ability to do many things without your help is important. As your child grows older, there will be many times when your encouragement will mean the difference between his giving up on a challenging task or seeing it through.

HOW CAN I HELP? Let your child know you are willing and available to help her accomplish a particular task that may be difficult for her to manage on her own. You might say: "I think you can read that story by yourself now. Let me know if you need help with a new word." As your child takes on projects in school, encourage her to think of specific steps that are necessary to complete a project. You both can decide which tasks your child can handle on her own and which ones she'll need help with.

LET'S ALL PITCH IN. A child is never too young to learn that cooperation and team effort make many jobs easier and speedier - and often more fun: "Let's all pitch in and finish raking the leaves so we can go in and bake cookies," or "Let's all pitch in and clean up the kitchen or we'll miss the movie." Family activities and group chores can develop into pleasant rituals that enrich a child's life and create fond memories.

18 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

HOW ABOUT A HUG? Don't just tell your child you love him - show him. Research indicates that young children deprived of physical touch and displays of affection often fail to thrive. As children grow older, they vary in the way they like us to show affection. Some love to be cuddled, while others perfer a quick hug or pat on the shoulder. It's important to be aware of what your child enjoys most at a particular age.

PLEASE. After all these years, "please" is still a classic. When you ask a favor of anyone including children - this "magic word" acknowledges that you are asking for a behavior that will help you and/or make you happy. (P.S.: Don't forget to say "thank you" when the job is done.)

GOOD JOB! Good for you. Self-respect and self-confidence grow when your child's efforts and performance are rewarded. Whenever possible, give your child lots of praise. Be sure your praise is honest and specific. Focus on your child's efforts and progress, and help her identify her strengths.

IT'S TIME TO.... "It's time to get ready for bed," or "do homework," or "turn off the TV." Young children need structure in their daily lives to provide a measure of security in an often insecure world. It's up to you as a parent to establish and maintain a workable schedule of activities, always remembering that children benefit from regular mealtimes and bedtimes.

I LOVE YOU. Everyone needs love and affection and a feeling of acceptance and belonging. We can't assume that children know and understand our love for them unless we tell them. Letting your child know that you love them (and showing them with countless hugs) is important not only in toddlerhood, but also as he or she grows older. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 19

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

The Lifelong Learning Center • Available for parents and families. • Learn to play guitar, and teach your child the importance of music. • Take care of yourself and model fitness and health by taking spinning, kickboxing, or yoga. 310 South Curtis Missoula, MT 59801 (406) 549-8765

• Teach your child skills and independence while you spend time together - take a parent and child cooking class. • Earn your high school diploma - Over a lifetime an individual with a high school diploma (HiSet) will earn about $320,000 more in income than someone without. (Reach Higher America, June 2008). • Most importantly, if you are a lifelong learner, your child can be too.

Learning From Others - Parenting Quotes to Remember 1. "Parents must lead by example. Don't use the cliché do as I say and not as I do.' We are our children's first and most important role models." ~Lee Haney 2. "Your children need your presence more than your presents." ~Jesse Jackson 3. "Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you." ~Robert Fulghum 4. "If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves." ~C.G. Jung, Integration of the Personality, 1939 5. "Children are natural mimics who act like their parents despite every effort to teach them good manners." ~Author Unknown 20 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

T h e L o tu s P r o j e c t The Lotus Project is a non-profit dedicated to making pregnancy and postpartum a happy and healthy experience for women in Missoula. The Lotus Project focuses on pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum education and resources through an array of programs. Free community events that are offered throughout the year support educational health topics. Pregnancy Roadmap consultations provide information about local services, classes and resources to help an expecting mama get off to the very best start. Mama Workshops, Lotus Childbirth Classes, breastfeeding and pregnancy support groups, doula trainings, and mom play groups are just some of the ways clients receive support.

725 West Alder Street Suite 2 Missoula, MT 59802 (406) 219-7521

The Project's mission is to improve women’s health and happiness during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. It desires to make sure that every mama and family is supported.

DID YOU KNOW... 1. Pregnant women who maintain a healthy weight throughout their pregnancies have a lower chance for cesarean birth? 2. Consuming a sufficient amount of water is one of the most important elements in your daily health routine during pregnancy? 3. Women who were supported by doulas in labor report having a more positive childbirth experience? 4. Babies who have skin-to-skin contact with their mothers at birth cry less, interact more with their mothers, and were more successful at breastfeeding? 5. One in eight women suffers from postpartum depression?

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Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Missoula Association for the Education of Young Children The goals of the Missoula chapter of Montana AEYC are to provide leadership and professional development opportunities for persons working with young children birth to age 8 and their families, to promote high quality early care and education, and to advocate for the early childhood workforce. or Email us at:

Activities include providing trainings and conferences that cover all aspects of parenting and caregiving. MAEYC promotes “Week of the Young Child� each April with activities in many local area childcare facilities and preschool programs. MAEYC mentors assist programs to achieve quality improvement by becoming nationally accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Research shows that high-quality, early childhood programs help children develop essential skills to succeed in life, such as early language, literacy, math, empathy, pro-social skills and voluntary control of attention and behavior.

Make a differnce in your community 1. Recognize that children are our greatest resource and that quality early learning is one of the best investments we can make in their future and ours. 2. Support programs that provide quality early childhood education by volunteering at a childcare center, Head Start, or your local school. 3. Educate yourself and others about the importance of quality early childhood education at websites such as: and 4. Support policies at the local, state, and federal levels that provide quality early learning opportunities for all young children. 5. Take time to thank educators and others involved in building better futures for all children. 22 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition The Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition supports and promotes breastfeeding for everyone in the community. The Coalition consists of community members who have occupational or other direct interest in breastfeeding promotion and advocacy. • The Coalition provides a free Breastfeeding Rest Stop at several Missoula events during the year. The Rest Stop is a tent that provides shade and privacy to feed babies, breast or bottle, and breastfeeding resources. The tent includes comfortable chairs, diaper changing station, drinking water, breastfeeding pamphlets and is staffed by breastfeeding experts from the Coalition. • The Coalition hosts a room at the Western Montana Fair where families can feed their babies, breast or bottle, in a cool and clean location. • The Coalition coordinates and sponsors a Professional Breastfeeding Educational event each year where Continuing Education Units (CEUs) can be obtained for International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), Certified Laction Counselors (CLC) and Registered Nurses (RN).

Mary Strand, IBCLC Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition President Lactation Consultant Missoula County WIC Program 301 West Alder Missoula MT 59802 (406) 258-3829

• The coalition sponsors the Breastfeeding Friendly Business Drive which educates local businesses about Montana Breastfeeding Laws regarding breastfeeding in public and at the worksite. The Coalition has regular monthly meetings at the Missoula CityCounty Health Department at 301 West Alder. Meetings are held on the 2nd Monday of each month at noon.

Tips for having a successful milk supply while breastfeeding 1. Start breastfeeding right after delivery to help your baby receive colostrum and build milk supply. 2. Feed on demand and skin-to-skin as much as possible. 3. Do not use a pacifier during the first 4-6 weeks, unless under doctor’s orders. 4. Avoid any supplemental foods: formula; baby cereal; baby jar foods; or, any solids, until baby is 6 months of age. 5. Most importantly, call a breastfeeding expert if problems or questions come up. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 23

The Kid's Page Tic - Tac - Toe

24 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings

Best two out of three wins the game and saves the city.

Every Superhero needs a logo. Use this space to draw your very own Superhero Logo.

Our Superhero Dragon lost his Superhero Uniform. Can you help him find all his gear in the workd search above?

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Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

S i l ve r S u m m i t a playground for everyone

McCormic Park Missoula, MT

The Silver Summit Playground will be a play space which is fun, welcoming and challenging for ALL children! Slated to open in July 2014, it will be located in McCormick Park near Currents. The playground was designed based on focus group input from children using wheeled mobility, children on the autism spectrum and youth with a variety of disabilites. Feedback from families, adults with disabilities, rehabilitation and education specialists and community members helped to refine the vision.

Covering about 30,000 square feet, the playground will be a "park within a park," enabling children to play without feeling crowded. Pour-in-place rubberized surfacing will allow kids using wheeled mobility to navigate smoothly to play with features and their peers. Areas for nature play, sensory play, and creative play will be combined with spaces for families to socialize and connect. The playground is a public private partnership between Parks and Recreation and Friends of Missoula Parks. Major supporting gifts from the Morris and Helen Silver Family Foundation, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and many other local supporters have made the playground possible. 26 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Descriptions of Equipment A. Rubberized Play Mound - Enables kids to climb, crawl, walk, or roll to the top! B. Adaptive Swing - Made of molded plastic to provide extra body support -- and all the fun of a regular swing! C. Adaptive Spinner - This merry-go-round has points for transferring from a wheelchair or walker as well as high-back seats. D. Adaptive See-Saw on Springs - The addition of a grip bar and footrest will provide more security for kids who don't feel safe on typical see-saws. One side will have a backrest.





Five Reasons Play is Important for Every Child 1. Fun! Kids of all abilities love the playful atmosphere, fresh air and social connections of a well-designed playground, which can promote "flow" experiences that lead to deep enjoyment and learning. 2. Physical challenge: All kids' bodies can develop on playgrounds, whether from the vestibular sensations of swinging or play involving balance or strength building. Adaptive equipment opens up these experiences to the widest variety of kids! 3. Social experiences: Meeting and mixing with others helps kids experience the special joy of shared laughter. Getting to know friends different from themselves opens up broader perspectives and strengthens the community. 4. Problem solving: Whether learning to scale a play mountain, build a sand castle, or negotiate with a friend, kids gain valuable problem solving experiences through trial and error. 5. Sensory development: Through interaction with the sights, sounds, smells and textures of nature, kids gain input about their environment. The vestibular sensations of swinging, balancing, and spinning let kids know where their bodies are in space. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 27

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

M i s s o u l a Ch i l dr e n ' s M u s e u m What can you do in the Missoula Children’s Museum? • • • • • • 225 West Front Street Downtown Missoula (406) 541-7529 Hours Tuesday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Sunday: Noon - 5:00 p.m. (Closed - July/August) Closed Mondays & Major Holidays

Enjoy a place that’s just for kids; Dig for dinosaur bones in a giant pit; Dress up like a chicken or a princess; “Shop” for healthy food; Take a yoga, Taekwondo or exercise class; Visit the Parenting Center for helpful parenting strategies; and, Connect with other kids and families.

At the Children’s Museum and Families First, PARENTING MATTERS!

Admission $4.25 per person Children under 1 are Free Free for members. Ask for info about Museum Memberships.

Five Simple Tips for Parents - An Unconditional Love The Important Message that must get through 1. Have Fun with Your Child!! Laugh, Smile, Giggle! Let your child know that you enjoy being with them—that they make you laugh, warm your heart, that there is nothing more important at that moment than them. It does not matter what you do, but if for 15 minutes a day we could just have fun with our children (crawling on the floor, looking at the clouds, pretending to have magic…) we would all be much happier. 2. Get Curious, Not Furious! Try to figure out what is causing your child’s behavior. Think of it as a mystery and try to discover what your child is thinking and feeling, and why they may be acting in a certain way. When we think from a logical, problem-solving place rather than an emotional place, we have a much better chance of helping our children change their behavior. “Tell me what was going on when you knocked over his Lego tower. Did you feel like I had been giving him more attention than you, and you were upset with me?” 3. Catch Them in the Act of Doing Something “Good.” Have you ever noticed how easy it is to forget to recognize or comment when your children are playing kindly, cooperating, or being helpful. We certainly notice when kids are fighting, talking back to us, not doing their chores. Kids (in fact, all of us) thrive on attention. If we give our children attention for behaviors we want, then our children are more likely to behave in this way. Similarly, if we give less attention to unwanted behaviors, they will decrease in frequency. Caught in the act of sharing: “Look at what a good sharer you are!”

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Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Families First part of the Children's Museum Missoula Families First provides a place to discuss behavioral issues, parenting dilemmas, parenting philosophy and an awareness of our own upbringing. Parents seek assistance for all kinds of questions about sleeping, picky eating, whining, self-confidence, brain development, emotional regulation, tantrums and angry outbursts, sibling rivalry, co-parenting, single parenting, communication skills, tween behavior, teen communication and more. Families First provides them with information and services in our community. Families First provides the following tools to grow as a family: • • • • • •

Parent Helpline; Individualized parenting classes and short-term parent counseling services; Mediation and parenting plans; Mindful parenting approaches; Parenting classes on topics such as positive discipline, stress management and communicating with your teen; and, Divorce and shared parenting classes.

227½ West Front Street, Downtown Missoula (entrance located across from the carousel) (406) 721-7690

Families First has professional staff with MSW, MA Counseling and Ph.D. credentials. Ask about sliding fee scale and payment plan. Please call for appointments and visit the website for more information.

4. Say 5 Positive Things to Our Children for Every 1 Negative Thing We Say to Them. Kids remember the negative things we say. Human brains are programmed to pick-up on negativity. To help our children feel good about themselves, and thus act “good,” we must remind them of all the good within them! And, when we remind them how fun, kind, caring, generous, flexible, easy-going, adventurous…they are, we remind ourselves how great our children really are. 5. Validate What Your Child is Saying/Feeling. Rather than trying to fix or excuse, correct, or convince them that their feelings are “wrong,” next time your child says something, just repeat what they say and guess their feeling. “Your teacher yelled at you in front of the whole class! She said your name and started yelling. That sounds awful. I would think that made you mad? And maybe embarrassed?” UNCONDITIONAL LOVE! Give your child the message that no matter what, you will always love them. Let them know that you might not like their behavior, but there is nothing they can do that will cause you to stop loving them. “ I was pretty angry today when you hit your brother. But I want you to know I can be angry AND still love you. No matter what, I will love you.”

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Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

M i s s o u l a C i t y -C o u n t y Health Department Babies don't come with instruction booklets - get information on how to care for them and yourself during those first critical months and years!

301 West Alder St Missoula, MT 59802 (406) 258-4298

The Missoula City-County Health Department has a variety of services available for families with infants and children of all ages. Home-visiting nurses, social workers and dieticians can help design a program that fits your needs. The Health Department's goal is to help promote healthy pregnancies, successful breastfeeding, and proper care of newborns and children. The Health Department has a variety of educational programs and support services, including:

• Prenatal, childbirth, and newborn care classes; • One-on-one assistance with breastfeeding; • Developmental screening and parenting education and support as your child grows; • Assistance with specialized dietary needs; • Childhood asthma prevention education; • Health education and assistance; and, • Negotiating the maze of medical care and other community resources.

Give your children a great start in life and help yourself along the way!

Most programs are free of charge.

Don't forget.... 1. Parenting is hard 2. Ask for help 3. Take care of yourself too 4. Hold your temper 5. "Always be BIGGER, STRONGER, WISER, and KINDER to your children." © Circle of Security

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Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Missoula Public Library The Missoula Public Library's varied programming and services include: • Three Tiny Tales preliteracy programs a week (10:30 a.m. T, Th, F) for children birth to 3 years old; • Three Storytime programs a week (10:30 a.m. F, 11:00 a.m. Sat, 2:00 p.m. Sun) for children 3 to 6 years old; • Regular tours for childcare centers and school classes;

301 East Main Missoula, MT 59802

• A yearly collaboration with the Missoula Art Museum (MAM) that combines an art experience at the MAM with a library experience at the library;

(406) 721-2665

• A summer family reading program that provides prompts and rewards for reading and a summer activity program that offers weekly events and family movies;

• One-time reading, entertainment and craft events throughout the year; • An active play area and game computers for younger kids; • Computer and reading area for tweens; • Search computers and a self-check computer; • A wonderful collection of old and new picture books, beginner readers, chapter books, biographies, nonfiction, comics, magazines, holiday books, and reference books; and, • Expert, friendly help in finding the books patrons are looking for and giving advice on literacy issues.

Myths about reading to young kids 1.

MYTH: You must read the whole book, beginning to end, in a single sitting. TRUTH: Follow the child’s lead. You might do five pages, ten, or just two.


MYTH: You must read 20 minutes a day for kids to benefit. TRUTH: With busy schedules and young children, one minute may be fine some days.


MYTH: Children must listen to every word. TRUTH: The important thing is the conversation between adult and child that books can trigger.


MYTH: You must actually read every word of a picture book. TRUTH: You can take a “picture walk,” describing and talking about the pictures.


MYTH: You shouldn’t read to children until they’re older preschoolers. TRUTH: Children enjoy books from birth, loving your voice, rhythm and cuddling. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 31

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

M i s s o u l a Co u n ty P u b l i c Sc h o o l s

Jefferson Center 1700 South Avenue West Missoula, MT 59801 Debbie Chilcote (406) 728-2400 Ext. 1090

MCPS operates an inclusive preschool for children ages 3-5 at Jefferson Early Learning Center. The program provides an early educational experience for preschool aged children with disabilities and their peers to learn together in a joyful, safe and nurturing environment. This site is centrally located, close to Southgate Mall, YMCA, UM and various schools. The preschool program offers child-centered, developmental classes designed for children with and without disabilities. All classes are taught by certified teachers with early childhood expertise. MCPS's mission is to provide a foundation for each child to become a lifelong learner, to prepare each child to become independent, to maximize school readiness and promote family involvement. Who is served? Jefferson Early Learning Program serves eligible children with disabilities ages 3-5 (who are not kindergarten age eligible) and a limited number of preschool age children without disabilities who reside within the boundaries of Missoula County Public Schools. Early Childhood Screening MCPS performs developmental screening at Jefferson School. The service is free of charge and screens children birth to age 5 for developmental progress in speech and language, vision, hearing, physical coordination, social and intellectual development. Screenings are free to those children living within MCPS Elementary District boundaries. Please note that this screening does not determine kindergarten readiness. The screenings take about an hour. To learn more or schedule a screening, call Debbie Chilcote at 728-2400, ext. 1090.

School Readiness Tips for Parents 1. Read to your child every day at home. 2. Encourage your child to think of solutions when they have a problem. 3. Invite friends over so your child learns how to play with other children. 4. Help your child learn to share with other children and wait their turn. 5. When your child is upset, help them learn that feelings are OK and teach ways to calm down. 6. Teach your child to follow simple directions and celebrate when they do. 7. Teach your child how to find a safe adult if they need help. 8. Give your child plenty of chances each day to run, jump, dance and throw balls. 9. Give your child plenty of chances each day to use their hands to do things like button their shirt, tie a knot and use crayons or scissors. 32 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Missoula Early Head Start Missoula Early Head Start (MEHS) is a program of Ravalli Head Start, Inc. that serves pregnant women and children up to age 3. Early Head Start recognizes that parents/guardians are their child's first and best teacher, which is why MEHS's programs work with families to ensure that the developmental needs of each child are met. Goals are set with families focusing on cognitive, physical, social, and social-emotional development and the health of infants and toddlers. Missoula Early Head Start offers three programs: Prenatal; Home-Based; and, Center-Based. The Prenatal option provides as-needed weekly home visits and one group session per month. Babies transition into one of the following program options as vacancies occur. The Home-Based option includes weekly home visits by a Case Manager. Parent-Child Interaction Groups meet two times a month at MEHS. During groups, parents/guardians come together to play with their children, discuss child development issues and share a meal. MEHS has a CenterBased option which provides full-day child services for 16 children, 5 days a week, from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. Center-Based families have two home visits and two information sharing meetings with their Infant/Toddler Teacher each year, and monthly parent groups. To qualify for MEHS's center program, parents must be in school fulltime or working 30 hours a week or more.

2121 39th Street Missoula, MT 59803 (406) 251-9410

All families in MEHS programs are provided with on-going health monitoring services, parent involvment opportunities, referrals to community agencies, optional counseling/mental health (wellness) services, and other various services designed to meet the current needs of their family.

How to Help Build Language Skills 1. Informative talking - Discuss with your child, in detail, what he/she has done, is doing, and what he/she will do. 2. Expand the child's statements - Build your child's short words or phrases into longer sentences. 3. Ask open-ended questions - Closed questions only allow your child to respond with one word. Openended questions provide children with opportunities to use more words in their answers. 4. Talk to yourself - When your child is within hearing range, talk out loud about what you are doing. 5. Read and do songs and finger plays - These activities are fun for both you and your child, and are a great way to develop language. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 33

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

M i s s o u l a Co u n ty Missoula Elementary Schools

Elementary Schools

Public Elementary Schools in Missoula County (outside of District 1)

Chief Charlo Elementary 5600 Longview, Missoula, MT 59803 Serves kindergarten through grade 5 (406) 542-4005

Hellgate Elementary 2385 Flynn Lane, Missoula, MT 59808 Serves kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 721-2160

Cold Springs School 2625 Briggs, Missoula, MT 59803 Serves kindergarten through grade 5 (406) 542-4010

Lolo 11395 Highway 93 South, Lolo, MT 59847 Serves kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 273-6141

Franklin School 1901 S. 10th W., Missoula, MT 59801 Serves kindergarten through grade 5 (406) 542-4020

Potomac 29750 Potomac Road, Bonner, MT 59823 Serves kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 244-5581

Hawthorne School 2835 S. Third W., Missoula, MT 59804 Serves kindergarten through grade 5 (406) 542-4025

Bonner 9045 Mt Highway 200 E, Bonner, MT 59823 Serves kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 258-6151

Lewis and Clark Elementary 2901 Park, Missoula, MT 59801 Serves kindergarten through grade 5 (406) 542-4035

Woodman 18470 Highway 12 West, Lolo, MT 59847 Serves kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 273-6770

Lowell School 1200 Sherwood Ave, Missoula, MT 59802 Serves kindergarten through grade 5 (406) 542-4040

DeSmet 6355 Padre Lane, Missoula, MT 59808 Served Pre-kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 549-4994

Paxson Elementary 101 Evans St., Missoula, MT 59801 Serves kindergarten through grade 5 (406) 542-4055

Target Range 4095 South Avenue West, Missoula, MT 59804 Serves kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 549-9239

Rattlesnake School 1220 Pineview Dr., Missoula, MT 59802 Serves kindergarten through grade 5 (406) 542-4050

Sunset 344 Sunset Hill Road, Greenough, MT 59823 Serves kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 244-5542

Russell School 3216 Russell, Missoula, MT 59801 Serves kindergarten through grade 5 (406) 542-4080 34 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Clinton 20397 E Mullan Rd, Clinton, MT 59825 Serves kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 825-3113

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Elementary Schools Swan Valley 6423 Highway 83, Condon, MT 59826 Serves Kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 754-2397 Unknown Website

Missoula International School 1100 Harrison Street, Missoula, MT 59802 Serves Pre-Kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 542-9924

Seeley Lake 200 School Lane, Seeley Lake, MT 59868 Serves Kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 677-2265

Missoula Valley Montessori 2811 Latimer, Missoula, MT 59802 (406) 880-2819

Frenchtown 17620, Frenchtown, MT 59834 Serves Kindergarten through grade 12 (406) 626-2670

Private Elementary Schools in Missoula County Clark Fork School 2525 Rattlesnake Drive, Missoula, MT 59802 Serves Pre-Kindergarten through grade 5 (406) 728-3395 First Lutheran Classical School 2808 South Russell Avenue, Missoula, MT 59801 Serves Kindergarten through grade 3 (406) 549-3311 Garden City Montessori 3035 South Russell Avenue, Missoula, MT 59801 Serves Pre-Kindergarten through grade 3 (406) 240-0290 Missoula Community School 239 South 5th West, Missoula, MT 59801 Serves children ages 3 to 6 (406) 542-2833

Mountain View Elementary 1010 Clements Road, Missoula, MT 59804 Serves Kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 543-6223 St. Joseph Elementary 503 Edith, Missoula, MT 59801 Serves Kindergarten through grade 8 (406) 549-1290 Sunflower Montessori 646 S 6th West, Missoula, MT 59801 Serves Pre-Kindergarten through grade 3 Director: Katie Watterson (406) 830-3025 Sussex 1800 South 2nd West, Missoula, MT 59801 Serves Kindergarten through grade 8 Director: Robyn Gaddy (406) 549-8327 Valley Christian 2526 Sunset Lane, Missoula, MT 59804 Serves Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 (406) 549-0482

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Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Need ideas to help you stretch your food dollars? Would you like to make and taste simple, low-cost recipes that your whole family will enjoy? Do you have family members who are selective eaters?

Missoula County Extension Office 2825 Santa Fe Court Missoula, MT 59808

Do you want to bring your young children to classes? If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, then Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is for you! The EFNEP offers free cooking and nutrition classes to limited-resource families. The cooking and nutrition classes are offered at a variety of times and locations. To register for a class or for more information call (406) 258-4207 (Barb or Liz) or (406) 258-4208 (Diann) or visit EFNEP's website.

5 tips to help develop healthy eating habits 1. Eat together as a family, at least once a day. It could be for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 2. Have your children help choose vegetables and fruits for snacks. 3. Include children in food preparation whenever it is possible and safe. 4. Offer milk or water with meals. 5. Make hand washing before meals fun by singing “Happy Birthday� two times. Be sure to use warm water and soap. 36 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Montana Food Bank Network The mission of the Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN) is to end hunger in Montana through food acquisition and distribution, education and advocacy. MFBN has several school programs available to help alleviate child hunger in Montana including BackPack and School–Based Pantries. 5625 Expressway Missoula, MT 59808

Child hunger in Montana: • 1 in 5 children are food insecure • 19.7% of children live in poverty • 41% of children are at risk of hunger (according to 185% poverty level) • 46.5% of household that receive SNAP benefits include children • Approximately 62,000 children are enrolled in free or reduced price school meals

(406) 721-3825 Stephanie Stratton, School Program Coordinator

The BackPack Program reduces child hunger in Missoula by providing children with nutritious and easy-to-prepare food to take home on weekends and school vacations when other resources are not available. Children discreetly receive a bag of food that includes sufficent food for a child for two days. The School-Based Pantry Programs meet the needs of hungry students and their families by providing them with food and community assistance at school. Both are free to participants!

Reducing childhood hunger results in 1. Improved motor skills, memory and social interaction. 2. Reduction in grade repetition, absences, tardiness and behavior problems. 3. Improved math and reading scores. 4. Improved physical and cognitive development. 5. You can support hungry children in your neighborhood by starting or helping to run a Back Pack program at your child's school. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 37

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Mothers' Milk Bank The Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana is a non-profit organization that collects, screens, pasteurizes and distributes human donor milk to infants with medical needs who do not have access to their own mother’s milk.

734 Kensington Avenue Missoula, MT 59801 (406) 531-6789

Why donated breast milk? Donor breast milk offers most of the same benefits as the birth mother's milk including optimal nutrition, easy digestibility, growth factors to promote maturation and healing of tissues, immunological protection and infection-fighting components.

Donor breast milk can literally save the life of premature infants, babies and toddlers who are failing to thrive, or have lifethreatening diseases. Email us at: If you are interested in becoming a breast milk donor or have a child in need of donor milk, please contact us.

5 tips for new parents 1. Find a support system - parenting is hard and you are going to need some encouragement and helping hands along the way. 2. Skin-to-skin contact is the best way to bond with your infant. It has been proven to decrease crying, help a baby maintain body temperature and increase success with breastfeeding. 3. Lower your expectations for yourself and eliminate unnecessary tasks. Taking care of a newborn will and should consume your day. Enjoy the moments and stop stressing about the little things. 4. Learn the five Ss on how to comfort and sooth a new baby by watching "Happiest Baby on the Block." 5. Human milk is uniquely and perfectly made for human babies. Its nutritional content, antibodies and growth factors cannot be duplicated in any manufactured formula. Every ounce makes a difference. We realize not all mothers can provide milk for their babies, which is why Mothers' Milk Bank strives to make human milk available. 38 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Mountain Home Montana Mountain Home Montana is a nonprofit that provides supportive services, housing, and mental health counseling for young mothers and their children. Mountain Home's mission is to provide a safe, loving home where young mothers can discover their strengths and their children can experience the joys of childhood. It serves young women ages 16-24. When young mothers first arrive at Mountain Home Montana, they enter the Supportive Housing Program in Mountain Home's seven-bedroom home (*one bedroom is available for emergency, short-term housing). They are welcomed with basic needs, food, shelter, safety and support. While living in the home, mothers receive 24-hour staff support, individual care management, access to social services, GED preparation or high school enrollment, access to health care, job training, transportation assistance, independent living skills, parenting classes, access to quality early childhood education, and more.

2606 South Avenue West Missoula, MT 59804 (406) 541-4663

When they have successfully met program requirements, young mothers may apply for one of the five-furnished units in Mountain Home's permanent supportive housing apartments. These are designed to allow young mothers to practice independent living skills in a supportive environment.

The 5 Rs When Working with Young Parents 1. Relationship - Care About Me 2. Respect - Don't Judge Me 3. Reality - Keep It Real 4. Resources - Connect Me 5. Reduce Risks - Make Safe Choices Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 39

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Nurse-Family partnership Nurse-Family Partnership is a program for women who are having their first baby. If you enroll, a registered nurse will visit you in your home throughout pregnancy and continue to visit until your baby is 2 years old. How much does the program cost? Nurse-Family Partnership is FREE to all eligible women. A New Program of the Missoula City-County Health Deptment 301 West Alder Street Missoula MT 59802 Lavonne Blunt, RN (406) 258-4263

My nurse will help me: • Have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby; • Become a better parent; • Build a strong network of support for me and my baby; • Make my home a safe place for my baby to live and play; • Obtain referrals for healthcare, childcare, job training and other support services available in my community; • Find ways to continue my education and develop job skills; and, • Set goals for my family’s future and find ways to help me reach them. Who can enroll in the program? Any woman who: • Is pregnant with her first child; • Meets income requirements; and, • Lives in Missoula County. You are encouraged to enroll as early as possible in your pregnancy.

Make reading fun 1. Physically play with books. Let your child pick books up, flip them from front to back and turn the pages. 2. Point out pictures and name them out loud. This helps your child make the association between words and their meanings. 3. Read in silly voices. It brings stories to life and makes reading all the more fun. 4. Read the same book over and over. Although reading a wide range of books is good, kids learn through, and love, repetition. 5. Talk about letters. Point them out in books and talk to your child about them; "the word ball starts with a 'B'." 40 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

The Parenting Place In order to succeed, The Parenting Place has always utilized research-based, best or promising practice models of service. The Parenting Place, "is able to prove the services we offer will have the best outcomes possible for families." Parent Aide Program Home Visiting Services 1644 South 8th Street West Missoula, MT 59801

The Parenting Place provides home visiting services to families who want or need more “hands on� experience than a class setting provides.

(406) 728-5437

Parenting Classes

Offered in a classroom setting and taking place over a course of 10-15 weeks, the Nurturing Program is the curriculum of choice because of its research base, philosophy and easy to understand language. Classes are offered at the Pre-Release Center but also support is provided to families and children who have an incarcerated family member. Respite Child Care and Children’s Programs The Parenting Place's programs for children are designed to accompany classes and groups as well as to give parents a needed break in their parenting routines.

At the Parenting Place parents can learn to 1. Create a sense of loving safety for their children. 2. Nurture their children even in stressful, uncertain times. 3. Have appropriate expectations for their children, often diffusing unnecessary levels of frustration. 4. Gather powerful tools and perspective as they strive to become the parent they'd hoped to be. 5. Problem-solve parenting dilemmas as they interrupt patterns they learned as a child. 6. Access much needed respite unavailable to many families. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 41

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Parents as Leaders at Women's Opportunity and Resource Development (WORD) Parents As Leaders (PALS) believes that all parents and caregivers can benefit from programs that increase parental confidence, skills and ability to provide a nurturing and secure environment for children. PALS believes that parents have an important leadership role in their families and communities and that training and support increases their ability to fully engage in those roles. 1124 Cedar Street Missoula MT 59801 (406) 543-3550

Parents as Leaders is open to all parents, grandparents and caregivers and in Missoula and the North Bitterroot Valley. PALS provides free parent education programs that have been rated as highly effective in promoting strong parent-child relationships and positive parenting strategies. Its parent leadership trainings increases the parent’s abilities to make a difference in their communities.

Parenting Classes • Love and Logic teaches parents practical and simple skills for communicating with children with love and empathy, and for setting limits in ways that promote children’s senses of responsibility, self-esteem and competence. • Circle of Security (COS) focuses on strengthening parent-child relationships by providing a simple “map” to understanding children’s needs while supporting parents as they reflect on their own strengths and struggles, gain understanding of challenging behaviors, and learn to respond in ways that will give their children a strong connection and secure start in life. Parent Leadership • The Right Question Project (RQP) teaches parents foundational skills for being an effective advocate for their children and families in a wide array of settings. • Parent Leadership Groups: Parents and caregivers come together in facilitated groups to gain skills that prepare them to be more successful advocates and leaders in their family and their community.

Top 5 Parenting Tips 1. Encourage turn-taking. Even as young as 9 months, babies can begin to engage in back and forth interactions such as taking turns putting blocks in a container. These experiences give them the pleasure of working together. 2. Do chores together from an early age. Let your child experience the benefits of cooperation. Most chores can be made fun with a bit of imagination and when the experience is shared. 3. Take time to problem-solve. You can help your toddler think of solutions to everyday dilemmas such as being told "no" about something they want to do. If they can be part of identifying alternatives, often a meltdown or tantrum can be avoided. 4. Explain the reasons for family rules. By age 3, most children can understand simple explanations, such as “We all help clean up, then we don’t lose our toys and we can find them when we want to play.” 5. Listen to and respect your child. Validate and acknowledge their feelings, including anger. Give your child choices while maintaining the rules. Suggestions elicit cooperation while commands evoke resistance. Teaching the benefits of cooperation goes a long way in reducing oppositional behaviors. 42 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Planned Parenthood of Montana Planned Parenthood of Montana (PPMT) empowers all people to make private reproductive health care decisions by providing quality health care, medically accurate education and advocacy for individual rights. Health care, education and advocacy come together at PPMT to provide services which include lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention, testing and treatment for STDs, breast health services, Pap tests, sexual health education, information and health counseling. Planned Parenthood of Montana also provides services for the Montana Men’s Clinic, an Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace Navigator and Plan First (a state program that provides free reproductive health care) enrollment. People of all ages come to PPMT because they know they will be cared for compassionately and confidentially.

219 East Main Street Missoula, MT 59802 (406) 728-4590

At Planned Parenthood of Montana we know that knowledge is power and is essential to making healthy choices about sexuality and reproductive health. PPMT is available for moms and dads who might be uncertain about – or just don’t know how – to talk to their teens about sex. The education department is committed to providing the training, education and support that parents and professionals need to facilitate truly meaningful communication with children of all ages.

Top 5 Books for Children about Sexuality and Reproduction 1. It's Not the Stork! A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends by Robie Harris (for ages 4 and up) 2. What's in There? All About Before You Were Born by Robie Harris (for ages 2-5) 3. Who Has What? All About Girls' Bodies and Boys' Bodies by Robie Harris (for ages 4-8) 4. What's the Big Secret? Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (for ages 4-8) 5. It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie Harris (for ages 10 and up) Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 43

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids


Parents, Let's Unite for Kids

Parents, Let's Unite for Kids (PLUK) provides information, support, consultation and promotes family-centered policies and practices. PLUK works to support emerging family leaders by providing mentoring and support for their visions and ideas.

PLUK’s Mission For a local PLUK contact, call PLUK’s Statewide Toll free number:

PLUK Parent Center unites parents, professionals, families and friends of children with special needs to support one another and share information for the benefit of children in Montana.

800-222-7585 PLUK's free services include:

• Help with special education questions, IEPs and meetings; • Help with navigating healthcare, insurance and specialists; • One-to-one help, information, consultation and support for parents; • Publications and guides on many topics including ADHD, behavior, and special education; • PLUK disability library; • Website with electronic newsletter and newsfeed;

and, • Referrals to Early Intervention and Adult Service and more.

FYI… 1. By 18 months most toddlers can say 50 words. 2. By three-years-old that will have increased to 900-1000 words. 3. Videos can be a good learning tool for your pre-schooler, but only if you watch with her and ask her questions about what is happening. 4. Your school district provides free developmental screenings, called Child Find, for children age birth to age 5. 5. Enjoy your child! He will never be this age again! 44 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Rite Care Clinic The RiteCare Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic serves people of all ages. The Clinic is supported by the fundraising of the Western Montana Scottish Rite Foundation. Scholarships for services are available to those in need. The Clinic also functions as a practicum for graduate students in the University of Montana Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) Department. Student clinicians are under the direct supervision of the CSD faculty who are licensed and certified. 634 Eddy Avenue University of Montana Missoula, MT 59812

Pediatric services include evaluation, therapy and consultation. Each child's program is tailored to their individual needs. Some areas of specialty include augmentative and alternative communication, emerging and developing literacy skills, speech sounds and language disorders and the YETI (Youth Engagement Through Intervention) program that addresses social development. Summer intensive programs are available.

(406) 243-2405

What You Can Do To Encourage Language Development 1. Every word counts - talk to your child all the time, about all things. 2. Interact with your child often - it is way more valuable than screen time. 3. Read with your children - read the book, talk about the book and read it over and over again. 4. Use hearing protection - hearing loss cannot be reversed. 5. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor - your physician will guide you to appropriate resources. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 45

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

T u r n i n g th e W h e e l Turning the Wheel Missoula (TTWM) builds vibrant, healthy communities through creative expression. TTWM's programming is comprised of movement, group-building games, reflective art and writing activities, song, and improvisational theatre. Live music that follows participant’s movements accompanies most events. At the heart of its mission, TTWM uses the expressive arts and embodied learning as tools to serve youth and the people who care for them. Turning the Wheel Missoula 702 Brooks Missoula, MT 59801 (406)830-3285

TTWM’s work nurtures self-esteem, self and body awareness, leadership and creative expression. It also builds connection among groups, reduces stress and gets people moving! TTWM's unique approach transforms school, work and family communities. TTWM works with groups of all ages and abilities, including: • K - 12 students and their teachers • Master teachers and social workers looking for new tools • University education students interested in embodied learning

• Elders • Adult female survivors of domestic abuse • Teen female survivors of sexual abuse • Cancer survivors

5 Tips for Parents with young Children 1. PLAY Join your child in their spontaneity and joy. Playing together strengthens your connection, supercharges learning, relieves stress and teaches problem solving. Allow your child to inspire and lead you with their unlimited imagination! 2. MOVE Mirror your child’s freedom of movement and self expression and model healthy lifestyle choices. They are free and uninhibited in their bodies and will stay that way if they are raised in an environment that honors this. Staying open, alive and fluid in our bodies increases intelligence and health. 3. APPRECIATE Practice appreciating yourself, your family members and life circumstances. Start with small things by keeping a gratitude jar with slips of paper to write down favorite moments of the day. Or, try an appreciation practice at dinner where the family shares highlights about themselves and their day. What we focus on grows. Gratitude has a direct relationship to happiness. The more we can appreciate and love ourselves, the more we have to give to others. 4. SAY YES TO YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILDREN Do something everyday that you really want to do, something that makes your heart, spirit and body sing. Self care will foster generosity toward your child and others. 5. FEEL YOUR FEELINGS Allow yourself and your children to understand and experience what you feel and then release it. Support your child by moving close and holding their hand as they cry. Whether the reason they are crying seems rational or not, releasing the hurt "cleans the slate" so they are free to begin again, refreshed. If feelings are not allowed to be felt and expressed, they will demand attention in bigger, more dramatic ways.

46 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Women Infants and Children (WIC) The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides services to limited income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five. Foster parents, grandparents and fathers are encouraged to apply as well. Participants receive benefit checks for healthy foods, beverages and infant formula. Participants are also offered health and nutrition education about their specific nutrition needs and to learn about health prevention and improvement strategies. Participants receive guidance about important services such as public health nurse home visiting nursing services, prenatal and breastfeeding classes, immunizations clinics, energy, housing and transportation services. Participants may also receive guidance and support materials from lactation specialists about the benefits of breastfeeding, lactation techniques and breast-pumps for mothers returning to work or school.

Missoula City-County Health Department Main Office 301 West Alder, Missoula Lolo 5475 Farm Lane Seeley Lake Hwy 83 North, Faith Chapel sign UM Villages 2603 Maurice Drummond Community Center 202 E. Front WIC Clinic Hours Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm Noon and evening appointments available Telephone: (406) 258-4740 E-mail:

How a Mother Influences Lifelong Food Choices 1. A mother’s food choices when she is pregnant and breastfeeding can help children have a diverse diet later. An unborn baby develops the sense of taste before she’s born as food flavors are present in amniotic fluid during pregnancy and in breast milk as well. These depend entirely on what the mom eats and this in turn directly influences what the child prefers to eat after birth. 2. Babies start imitating their parents almost immediately, smiling when you smile and making similar noises. Be a good role model and let your children see you drink water or milk. Eat a wide variety of foods, including healthy snacks. 3. Mealtime is a great opportunity to strengthen family ties and pass on cultural traditions. Children who eat meals with their parents tend to eat a wider variety of healthy foods. Family meals improve children’s academic achievement and self-esteem. Kids who eat with their families have healthier overall diets and a lower prevalence of being overweight. Keep mealtime pleasant—avoid power struggles over what gets eaten. 4. Healthy foods promote growth and development of your child, such as lean meat, chicken and fish, dried beans, low-fat milk, whole grains, fruits and vegetables without added fat, salt and sugar. Prepare and offer healthy foods, and let your child tell you when they are full. This means limiting “junk food,” or foods and drinks that provide extra calories and few nutrients. Fundamental to parents’ jobs is trusting children to decide how much and whether to eat. If parents do their jobs with feeding, children will do their jobs with eating. 5. Missoula’s water does not have fluoride. Parents must help their children brush their teeth with fluoridated tooth paste twice a day. Missoula is far from the equator, so most children cannot get the sun exposure needed to assure healthy vitamin D blood levels. Ask your child’s doctor about fluoride and vitamin D supplements. Missoula Best Beginnings Council | 2014 | 47

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Y W CA For more than 100 years, YWCA Missoula staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to offer individuals and families in-need opportunities to change their lives for the better. The YWCA is where women turn for help with domestic and sexual violence, where homeless families can find housing and where young girls hone their leadership skills and discover their inner strengths. Last year, the YWCA helped over 2,500 women, children and men through its programs, which aim to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

1130 West Broadway Missoula, MT 59802 (406) 543-6691

The YWCA's five pillar programs include: • Ada’s Place Transitional and Emergency Housing Programs for families; • Gateway Center for short-term assessment, referral and supportive services located at the Salvation Army (239 W. Broadway); • Pathways Domestic and Sexual Violence Support Services and Shelter; • Planet Kids Supervised Visitation and Exchange Center; and, • GUTS! (Girls Using Their Strengths) leadership and empowerment program for girls age 9-18. For more information about the YWCA's services and ways you can help, visit its website or call (406) 543-6691. If you are in need of crisis services, call (406) 542-1944 or toll-free 1-800-483-7858.

Parenting Tips from the YWCA Missoula Children’s Program 1. Positive reinforcement is a great parenting tool and focuses on a child’s positive rather than negative behavior, promoting autonomy and self-confidence. For instance, next time you see your children pick up after themselves, tell him or her how proud and happy it made you feel to see them do so. The next time they make a meal or playtime “mess,” they will be more likely to clean up again because it will make you happy and make them feel good about themselves. 2. “Redirection” is not just for magicians! Parents will benefit from redirecting children’s attention away from engaging in inappropriate behaviors, towards something that they can and should be doing instead. 3. Research continues to show that spanking is an ineffective disciplinary tool, and may even lead some children to conclude that aggression is a means of obtaining desired outcomes. Instead, try other methods like “time-out“ immediately after observing undesired or inappropriate behaviors. This gives both children and parents time to “cool down!” 4. Keep it age appropriate. While older children may understand consequences such as timeouts and grounding, younger children (18 months and younger) do not have the developmental capacity to do so. There are many resources online and at your local library that can help you learn more about what types of age-appropriate discipline and reinforcement may work for your child. 5. Remember, your kids are watching you for appropriate social and emotional cues. Model the kinds of actions and behaviors you would like to see in them, such as saying “please” and “thank-you” to others. Many “bad” behaviors are learned, but so are compassion, empathy, and kindness towards others; help your child learn to be the best person they can be! 48 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Y o u r E n e r gy F i x Your Energy Fix's mission is to help children and adults avoid, mitigate or eliminate ADD/ADHD and other learning disabilities from their lives. Your Energy Fix uses non-pharmaceutical tools such as CranioSacral Therapy, Reiki and Emotional Freedom Technique to achieve a calmer more serene home, as well as a more focused daily life, thus a more productive one. Your Energy Fix also educates adults and children on methods of self-help.

415 North Higgins Avenue Suite #19 Missoula, MT 59802

Your Energy Fix has fantastic results working with expectant mothers, infants, children of all ages and adults that are well into their 80s.

James V. Fix, RM, CST (360) 840-3492

Helpful Tips 1. Use a checklist on a whiteboard for repetitive tasks such as getting ready for school in the morning. 2. Have a stress ball or something squishy so when the urge to fidget tries to take over, you have something to engage the body so the mind can stay focused. 3. Reduce or eliminate processed sugar from the diet. 4. Set VERY strict routines around daily events that need them, even for yourself. This makes things go a lot smoother! Again, use the whiteboard checklist. 5. Have a very open and constant dialogue with teachers, significant others and even your boss on how you and they can work together to make life easier for everyone.

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Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

Missoula Family YMCA The Y, believes that quality childcare should be available for everyone. The Y cares for more than 250 children in licensed childcare each day. Having quality childcare is important to the well-being of children and families. Parents can feel comfortable going to work knowing their children are being cared for in a healthy, loving, safe environment. The Y provides childcare that supports and strengthens families and nurtures the healthy, successful growth and development of each child involved. 3000 South Russell Street Missoula, MT 59801 (406) 721-9622

The Y has several different childcare settings, each specifically geared to the different stages of child development. The Y's unique in that it has the opportunity to provide consistent care for children from as early as six weeks all the way through fifth grade. Missoula Family YMCA childcare prides itself on teaching core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility to children at an early age. On a daily basis, the Y's childcare programs encourage healthy habits and incorporate exercise and nutritious food. In addition to the programming in classrooms, other Y facilities, such as the gymnasiums and the pool where children can participate in swimming lessons as part of their day, are utilized.

Family and Youth Development at the YMCA 1. The Y is accessible to all. Financial assistance is available for all YMCA programs including childcare. 2. Children who are exposed to young adult role models often aspire to attend college. Y camp counselors are predominately college students. 3. Activity levels decline significantly when kids enter middle school. The Y offers FREE memberships to 6th graders to help keep them active. 4. The most vulnerable hours for children are between 3-6 p.m., when parents are still at work. Y Afterschool Club supports youth development activities during these hours. 5. Families that play together lead healthier lives. Y Family Fun Time gets everyone active. 50 | 2014 | Missoula Best Beginnings Council

Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids

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Best Beginnings for Missoula Kids  

A Missoula County Early-Childhood Resource Guide. A Publication of the Missoula County Best Beginnings Council. Developed by the Missoula...

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