Child and Youth Success

You are here

Community Impact Area:  Child and Youth Success

Ensuring all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Our 4 Community Impact Areas are designed to deliver positive lasting change by bringing together a network of organizations, businesses and individuals to share resources and engage in results-driven Collective Impact Work.  

Raising children is truly a community endeavor so that all our children have a greater opportunity to become healthy, happy, and productive adults who can realize their full potential.  

Community Goals/Outcomes:

Our strategies to make positive impact include funding partner programs focusing on early childhood, parenting support and education, home visiting programs, quality affordable child care, professional development and support for care providers, mental health and basic needs.  We promote early literacy through community outreach and collecting and distributing thousands of books to children and families through afterschool programs, partner organizations, Kindergarten registrations, and numerous child and family events.  Continue our strong partnerships with school districts and launch collective impact work with community partners to achieve early literacy goals.  We lead and convene Gallatin Early Childhood Community Council (ECCC), which promotes thriving children from birth through age eight by creating an efficient, effective and comprehensive system of early childhood services.  We are a partner in MT Project Launch Initiative (MT-PLI), a $800,000 per year, 5-year federal SAMSHA grant, which is working towards integrating mental health into pediatric care, bridging obstetrics and pediatrics while supporting pregnant moms, enhancing home visiting with early childhood mental health expertise, improving and growing screening practices.  We advocate to city, county, state and federal government, as well as mobilize volunteers to support local programs and services.

Community Goal: 

- By 2022, 85% of children entering Kindergarten will have requisite literacy skills as measured by STAR early literacy.  (A score of 530 on the STAR assessment is a good predictor of success by 3rd grade.)

  • Increase Grade Level Reading by 3rd Grade (a key measure of a child’s academic success, and a strong predictor of high school graduation).

Our strategies include those listed above, as well as funding and administoring kidsLINK Afterschool Program, which provides homework and tutoring support, a variety of educational enrichment activities and book and STEM clubs.  We ensure that no child is turned away due to financial reasons.  We also fund partner programs that focus specifically on GLR and summer learning loss.

Community Goal: 

- By 2025, 90% of 3rd Grade Students will demonstrate grade level reading skills by achieving a proficient score on the STAR reading assessment at the end of the school year.

  • Increase Access to Quality Affordable Early Child Care, 0-5 years (child care is considered affordable if it is less than 10% of total income).

Our strategies include funding partner programs, leading and convening ECCC, patnering in MT Project Launch Initiative, actively engaging in community outreach and advocacy and mobilizing volunteers.

Community Goals: 

- By 2020, increase infant care slots in Gallatin County from 340 to 680
- By 2020, increase Best Beginnings’ scholarship enrollment in Gallatin County from 1,032 to 1,296
- Increase quality of early child care programs through professional development    
- By 2020, increase 2-to-5 year old slots in Gallatin County from 1607 to 1767

  • Increase Access to Affordable Quality Out-of-School Time Care, 5+ years; providing full-time support for working families.

Our strategies include those listed above, as well as funding and administoring kidsLINK Afterschool Program, which provides homework and tutoring support, a variety of educational enrichment activities and book and STEM clubs.  We ensure that no child is turned away due to financial reasons.  We also fund partner programs that focus specifically on GLR and summer learning loss.


  • In Gallatin County there are approximately 2,050 licensed child care slots which include approximately 340 licensed infant slots - wait lists for child care can be up to 2 years.
  • MT ranks 47th out of 50 states for Health.  Indicators include low-birth weight babies; children without health insurance; child and teen deaths, and; teens who abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • MT ranks 18th for Economic Well-Being.  Indicators include living in children in poverty, which is a family of 2 adults and 2 children with annual income below $24,036; children whose parents lack secure employment, and; children living in housing with high housing cost burden, which is more than 30% of monthly household pretax income is spent on housing-related expenses, including rent, mortgage payments, taxes and insurance.
  • MT ranks 18th for Education.  Indicators include young children, ages 3 to 4, not in school; 4th graders not proficient in reading; 8th graders not proficient in math, and; high school students not graduating on-time.
  • 37% of children entering kindergarten in Bozeman School District's 8 elementary schools are not ready to learn based on 2015-16 K Assessment.  
  • MT 14th for Family and Community.  Indicators include children in single parent families; children in families where head of household lacks high school diploma, and; children living in high-poverty areas, and teen births.
  • The average cost of child care for a four-year old is $7,900/year and $9,000/year for infant care.   In MT, child care is the largest expense for families with median incomes.
  • MT ranks 47th for children living apart from their parents (in foster care). There has been a 130% increase in foster care placements and 60% are due to drug and alcohol abuse/addiction.
  • From 0 - 3 years, we go through unparalleled growth when trillions of brain cell connections are made.
  • Health and development are directly influenced by the quality of care and experiences a child has with his parents and other adults.
  • 1 in 6 children who are not reading proficiently in 3rd grade do not not graduate from high school on time.
  • Overall, 22% of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6% of those who have never been poor.

We believe there is no problem that we can't solve together.  Join us to make change. 

Donate today to Greater Gallatin United Way.

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on the most important predictor of school success and high school graduation—grade-level reading by the end of third grade.

Factors that contribute to third grade reading proficiency:

School readiness

Research continues to show that fewer children from low-income families (less than half) are ready for school at kindergarten entry, compared to three-quarters of children from families with moderate or high incomes. For children from low-income families, preschool attendance is one of the strongest factors in school readiness; attending a high-quality early childhood program also predicts higher levels of achievement at age 11. A follow-up study of the Abecedarian Project found that by age 30, participants were four times more likely to obtain a college degree than nonparticipants. Entering school ready to learn can improve one’s chances of reaching middle-class status by age 40. And a study of the Child-Parent Center program found a long-term return to society of $8.24 for every dollar invested during the first four to six years of school, including prekindergarten.

School attendance

A report by Johns Hopkins University researchers suggested that the national rate of chronic absenteeism is 10 to 15 percent, meaning that 5 million to 7.5 million students miss at least 10 percent of their school days every year. The premise that schools fail to detect high levels of chronic absence because of data issues was confirmed by a study conducted jointly by the Child and Family Policy Center and Attendance Works. Other studies confirmed that chronic absence has a negative effect on students’ academic performance and cognitive development, especially for children from low-income families, and several new reports and evaluations measured the quality and effectiveness of chronic absence interventions.

Summer learning

Studies of summer learning programs in several different contexts all confirmed that high-quality summer programs can disrupt learning loss. Research on children from low-income families also offered new evidence that having access to books can ameliorate the summer learning slide and significantly improve scores on state reading assessments; the largest effects were for the most economically disadvantaged children.

Family support

Research published right before Early Warning helped explain how environmental factors like hunger, housing insecurity, parental depression and abuse influence the epigenome (the human “operating system”), making it more likely that specific genes will or will not be expressed. Other new research draws a link between the stress of poverty, hormonal changes and impaired learning ability. However, new research reveals that even after the epigenome has been modified by extreme childhood stress, the damage may be reversed. Furthermore, positive social-emotional experiences for young children, along with supportive family and community environments, reduce the likelihood of negative modifications to the epigenome that might impair learning.

Early Warning Signs - Full Article

Literacy Kit Distribution Form