16 MT communities to share $10M in preschool grants

It seems like only yesterday I was driving around Missoula with a printout in my hand of preschool providers accepting new children. My daughter’s daycare provider had experienced a sudden health emergency that left her unable to care for children anymore. I was looking for the best preschool in Missoula I could afford, and pronto.

The printout came from Child Care Resources, and helped whittle down my search to less than a handful of possibilities. In some communities, however, there are only a handful of preschool providers – or fewer.

So parents and providers in these places are sure to rejoice at this news, relayed by email this week:

Montana Awarded $10 Million to Expand Access

to High-Quality Early Childhood Education

in High Needs Communities

HELENA – Today, Governor Steve Bullock and Superintendent Denise Juneau announced that Montana has been awarded a $10 million-a-year federal Preschool Development grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase capacity and expand access to high-quality early childhood education in sixteen high needs communities throughout the state. The grant provides support for school districts in these communities to improve professional and program development, including scholarships for early childhood educators, building Montana’s early childhood workforce to ensure they’re able to meet the accreditation and licensure standards recently approved by the Montana Board of Public Education. Additionally, grant funds will be used to expand access to publicly funded, high-quality early childhood educational programs in these communities. This competitive grant can be renewed for up to four years, for a maximum of $40 million awarded. More than 6,000 four-year-olds are expected to be served over a four-year period. A total of 18 states received preschool development grants.

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Thankful for free rides on the carousel

Earlier this week Theresa Cox, executive director of A Carousel for Missoula, sent out this short, sweet note:
Thanks for helping us let others know they can ride the Carousel for free on Thanksgiving. (Cooks will be especially grateful if we get all their guests out of the house while they work!)

A Carousel for Missoula is again offering FREE RIDES for all on Thanksgiving, from 11am to 3pm, thanks to our volunteer operators. What a great way to celebrate the day while dinner is cooking!

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MT hands out $55K for school breakfasts

Here’s today’s new news from the Governor of Montana’s office:

Governor, First Lady Announce $55,000 in Grants for School Breakfast Programs

HELENA – Today, as a part of their Montana Breakfast After the Bell initiative, Governor Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock awarded $55,000 in grants to schools implementing new school breakfast programs or transitioning to models that increase participation. The grants were made possible with support from Share Our Strength, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Neptune Aviation.

“Childhood hunger is an important, but solvable issue in Montana,” Governor Bullock said. “Through these grants we’re removing an obstacle that many schools face to providing nutritious breakfast to their students. Montanans can be proud to know that progress is being made to ensure children don’t face the school day with an empty stomach.”

The Bullocks launched the Montana Breakfast after the Bell initiative to increase participation in school breakfast and make it a part of the school day by serving it after the school day begins. The initiative aims to ensure that all kids can have a healthy start to the day by helping schools adopt proven breakfast models that increase participation, such as breakfast in the classroom and grab n’ go breakfasts. One of the most effective ways to significantly boost school breakfast participation is to make it part of the school day.

On average, school breakfast participation rises to more than 70 percent when schools implement a Breakfast after the Bell model versus 30 percent with a traditional model that serves breakfast in the cafeteria before school starts.

Kids who start their school day with breakfast score higher on math tests, attend more days of school, and are more likely to graduate high school.

The schools that received grants in the first grant cycle are:

  • Lockwood Middle & Intermediate Schools – $5,360
  • Hardin School District – $11,814
  • Fairview School – $4,200
  • Power School – $1,500
  • Rocky Boy School – $5,000
  • W F Morrison School – $3,000
  • Sunburst High School  – $1,500
  • Superior School – $5,000
  • Loy Elementary – $5,000
  • Lincoln Elementary – $5,000
  • Arlee Elementary School – $750
  • Arlee Junior High School – $750
  • Arlee High School – $750
  • Park City School $3,900
  • Valley View Elementary – $1150

“Montana students deserve every opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential. Unfortunately, hunger and poor nutrition are providing additional challenges to many students in the state,” First Lady Lisa Bullock said. “Students in these schools will now have access to a nutritious breakfast that will prepare them to excel throughout the school day.”

Of the 859 schools across Montana, there are 51 districts and 87 schools serving breakfast after the bell.  Thirty-two of these schools started or plan to start serving a breakfast after the bell model this school year.

Research continues to show that children who eat a balanced breakfast are more likely to develop healthy eating habits, visit the school nurse less frequently, and maintain a healthy weight.  Despite the many benefits of breakfast, many students come to school too hungry to learn. In a recent survey of educators, three out of four teachers and principals say they see kids who regularly come to school hungry.

Schools interested in starting a new breakfast program and/or making breakfast part of the school day can contact the Montana No Kid Hungry School Breakfast Coordinator, Rosie Cody at RCody@mt.gov or by phone at 444-3925.

Montana No Kid Hungry continues to accept grant applications on a rolling basis with hopes of announcing the second round of grants in March 2015.  Schools can apply by visiting this link: grants.nokidhungry.org and the access code is MTBREAKFAST2014 (case-sensitive).

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It’s National Teens Don’t Text and Drive Week

Nov. 17-23 is National Teens Don’t Text and Drive Week, and here’s a press release from the Safe Kids Missoula Coalition:

Top Tips to Keep Kids Safe during National Teens Don’t Text and Drive Week: November 17-23, 2014 from Safe Kids Missoula Coalition led by Community Medical Center Foundation. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S.—these tips can help keep your teen safe behind the wheel!

Safe Kids Missoula recommends the following top driving safety tips.

1. Take action against distraction. Teach kids to put cell phones and other distractions in the back seat or out of sight until their final destination.

2. Think Ahead. Text before you get behind the wheel, plan your routes ahead of time.

3. Remember the risks. Consider the dangers of taking your eyes off the road, even for a few seconds. Avoid reading text messages; it’s as dangerous as sending a text message.

4. Let your actions speak as loud as your words. Set a good example for kids by putting devices down when you’re driving. If parents put devices down, kids are more likely to do the same.

5. Talk to your teens about how to be safe while driving. Have discussions about how to be safe while driving, including avoiding distractions such as texting, reading, reaching for electronic devices, eating, drinking and applying make-up.

6. Educate about local laws. Explain local laws to your teen and help them understand the importance of following these laws.

TextDrive1

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Early bird groceries

Are you OK, Jared asked.

Yes, I’ve been awake since 3:44 a.m., I said.

My body had gotten more than four hours of sleep and was tricked into thinking that was enough.

Welcome to motherhood, Jared said, laughing.

Yeah, yeah. Since I’m up, I’m going to run to the grocery store, I said.

Are you sure you want to go now, Jared asked. It’s 5:30.

Yep, I said. Saves me from bundling up Baby Girl to do it later (there was a wind chill warning in effect). I’ll be back before you go to work.

Have fun on your outing, he said. Hurry home.

Gee, thanks, I thought.

At the store I found everything I needed to make my new stuffing recipe for an early Thanksgiving dinner with friends that night.

Then this …

We don’t sell alcohol before 8, the clerk said.

What, I asked, dismayed.

Don’t look at me, she said. It’s state law.

So much for the white wine part of the recipe.

I slogged back to the car, some groceries in tow, and checked my phone only to read: “She’s awake and hungry. Hurry home.”

You see, we can’t get Baby Girl to take a bottle, which means I can only be gone for a few minutes at a time unless she takes an epic nap.

Are you OK, Jared asked for the second time in an hour when I got home.

No, I said, holding back tears. I couldn’t buy wine for my recipe and now I have to go shopping again later.

It’s alright, babe, he consoled me. Just don’t use the wine.

No, I have to use the wine. It’s part of the recipe. It gets all the good bits into the sauce, I explained. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t sell me wine before 8. It’s not like I was going on a bender.

Well, you look like you could use a drink now, Jared said as he left to shower.

About a half hour later he returned to the kitchen, still dripping water.

How long before you would start looking for me, he asked.

Huh, I said.

I fell asleep in the shower, he said. Luckily I leaned against the wall instead of falling over.

Welcome to fatherhood, I quipped, and it’s only 7.

**Let it be noted that I did get wine later in the day because Baby Girl and I ventured out to help my sister-in-law make lefse. Let it also be noted that I realize — now — that just using a different recipe would have made the most sense. In my defense, it was 5:30 in the morning.

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Sleepless in Missoula

You’d never know it, looking at her now in a state of angelic repose.

photo-6

But last night she almost drove me over the edge my sleep-deprived self has been toeing for weeks.

It was the latest in a string of evenings full of crying and lack of sleep. Clearly, her refusal to stop kicking her left leg long enough for me to zipper it back into her pajamas was meant to finish pushing me past my limits of self control.

Get the baby book, I asked Jared. Read what it says about colic and how to ease it in case we’re missing something.

After reading the section, we knew no new tricks and Baby Girl was holding strong.

The swaddle didn’t calm her. She couldn’t hear soothing sounds over her screaming. Swaying was doing nothing for her but was jabbing a dagger into my lower back. She had been fed, repeatedly, and her diaper was dry. I had just checked. Hence why her leg was out of her pajamas in the first place.

Walk away, I remembered was the advice of every health care professional we have come across. Better to not let your frustration turn to irrational anger and hurt your baby.

Did their endorsement make me feel like less of a failure as a parent for not being able to put my child to sleep? No.

Did their advice give me the encouragement I needed to let it go and walk away? Yes.

I need a minute, I told Jared, throwing my hands up in surrender.

As Baby Girl cried in the bedroom, so did I, braced against the kitchen counter.

After several minutes, the house became quiet and I walked into the bedroom to find Jared with Baby Girl cradled in his arms, swaying to ocean wave sounds.

Waves of emotion washed over me.

One of relief that she was asleep.

One of love for Jared and Baby Girl.

One of thankfulness that medical professionals are honest about the trials of parenthood and give us the encouragement and support to be honest with ourselves too.

And one of gratefulness for the white noise setting on the radio.

 

 

 

 

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Montana gets $12.5M for school climate, safety, student mental health

Well, this is big news. Before you read the official news release trumpeting the $12.5 million Montana is getting, I recommend you check out this video that explains what the Montana Behavioral Initiative is and how it is changing education right here in Missoula.

Montana Wins $12.5 Million in Grants
to Address School Climate, School Safety and Mental Health Needs of Students
Helena, MT – Superintendent Denise Juneau announced today that the Office of Public Instruction has received three grants totaling more than $12.5 million to improve school climate and school safety and support the mental and emotional health of Montana students. The Office of Public Instruction was awarded a $3.75 million School Climate Transformation grant, an $8.5 million Project AWARE grant, and a $250,000 School Emergency Planning grant.

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Lt Gov announces SMART Schools Challenge to use less energy, promote health

This just in:

Montana’s Lt. Gov. Angela McLean, who worked as a teacher for two decades, today announced a new challenge to the state’s public schools.

Here’s the deets:

It’s no secret that Montana schools are doing amazing and innovative things. Students today have opportunities to earn college credit in high school, get hands on career training in college and gain valuable skills in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields in elementary and middle school. Through these efforts, students are achieving and succeeding in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

For 20 years, I had a front row seat to these exciting and inspirational student successes. And in my new position as Lieutenant Governor, I want to make sure schools have all of the tools and resources to expand on the good work they’re already doing. It’s with that in mind that this week I’ll be kicking off my SMART Schools Challenges. Through this effort, we’ll challenge Montana schools to use less energy and promote student health. It’s pretty simple, if we use less energy and promote student health, we will save schools money that can be used on classroom instruction.

The reality is that schools in the U.S. spend more than $6 billion a year on energy. Many cite their energy bill as being the largest yearly expense. While we know this, we also know that implementing simple behavioral and operational measures to be smart about energy consumption can shave up to 30 percent off of a school’s yearly energy bill. When we save money on energy use, we shore up money for other things schools need, like computers and technology upgrades.

Over the coming days, I’ll be traveling to communities across the state to highlight some of the work that is already being done as part of these challenges. In many schools, students are leading the way on conservation and health promotion.

We’ll make sure to let you know when I’m in your community, but in the meantime, go to SMARTSchools.mt.gov to learn more about the challenges, and steps schools can take to save money and promote student health.

Lt. Gov. Angela McLean

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Montana gets federal grant to study paid family and medical leave

The National Partnership for Women & Families sent out a news release today congratulating Montana for being one of four states to win a federal grant to study family and medical leave.

The announcement is copied below:

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In local playground news …

this!

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