Director Sheila Hogan announced today that a new division within the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has been created to better coordinate existing services for children and families.
“This is an exciting opportunity to improve how we’re providing services for children and families in Montana,” Director Hogan said. “The new division will strengthen relationships within the department and with key stakeholders across the state. By working together, we are better able to provide a healthy start for our youngest children.”
The new Early Childhood and Family Support Division (ECFSD) consolidates several programs within DPHHS to improve collaboration and align funding, priorities, and practices.
Hogan said it also creates operational efficiencies and supports the DPHHS strategic plan to ensure all children and youth achieve their highest potential.
The ECFSD brings together child care licensing, early childhood services including financial assistance and quality improvement, early intervention services for young children with developmental delays, child nutrition programs, home visiting, and child, adolescent, and family health programs.
Specifically, it includes all current programs within the Early Childhood Services and Family and Community Health Bureaus, Child Care Licensing, No Kid Hungry, Montana Milestones/ Part C Early Intervention, Family Education and Support Program, and the Montana Children’s Trust Fund.
Jamie Palagi, who has served as the DPHHS Human and Community Services Division Administrator for the past eight years, will lead the new division. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Family Science and Child Development and a master’s degree in Human Services leadership and has worked with or on behalf of children and families for over 25 years.
Palagi stressed the new division is an opportunity to focus on quality early childhood efforts and family supports. “I see this as an opportunity to partner with communities, providers, and families to ensure children have what they need to thrive,” she said.
DPHHS recently published an early childhood needs assessment and strategic plan, identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement across the state related to children’s services. The strategic plan will guide some of the work of the new division over the next several years. Programs and services will continue as staff in the new division transition. DPHHS will work with staff, providers and consumers over the next several months as the new division comes together.