Helena Head Start program receives grant, plans to open new center this summer

Posted at 3:37 PM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 15:09:56-04

HELENA – The Rocky Mountain Development Council has received more than $2 million in funding for its Head Start program in Helena and surrounding areas.

The Head Start program is in its 52nd year and the funding will allow it to continue providing services to young children in Lewis and Clark, Broadwater and Jefferson counties.

“We are proud to be able to continue providing quality early childhood education and family services,” Ashley Peña-Larsen, RMDC’s Head Start Director, said.

The funding comes in the form of a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and was announced by Senator Jon Tester’s office on Tuesday.

According to the release, the program currently serves 236 children and their families in five communities through the tri-county area.

Peña-Larsen told MTN News some of that funding will be used to open a new center near Helena.

“We purchased a valley center building and we will be opening it up in September, so we’ll be able to serve families who live in the Helena valley area closer to home,” Peña-Larsen said.

In addition to the new center, the money will allow the program to provide seven hour school days – the same as the school district. In the past, Head Start students had just four hour days.

A ribbon cutting and grand opening for the new center north of Helena is scheduled for June 19 from 4 to 6 p.m.