Most people recognize the many ways public policy affects local government and the business community. Fewer people recognize the enormous impact public policy has on the everyday lives of children and families. For example:
- Child care: Training and pay for child care workers, business requirements for child care centers, state programs to encourage, meal programs for child care centers, federal and state programs to state funding (or lack of it) for public preschool, child care scholarships
- Healthy community: Local and state parks infrastructure and programs, support for school breakfast and lunch programs, support and investment for trails and sidewalks, federal food programs for families with low incomes, and opportunities for physical activity in school and after-school programs
- Early childhood: Federal and state programs (including Medicaid) allowing access to prenatal health care, allowances (or lack of them) for parental leave for a child’s birth or illnesses, availability of infant care, home visiting programs, and services for children with developmental delays or health needs
- At-risk youth: Federal and state programs (including Medicaid) allowing access to mental health care and other forms of health care, programs that provide help for kids who abuse drugs and alcohol, school programs to help struggling students or kids who skip school, youth courts, parole, and other programs to help youth in trouble with the law
- Housing: Zoning and funding structures that encourage – or restrict – affordable housing development, housing assistance for families with low incomes or disabilities, services for families who are homeless
- Jobs and income: Income support for families in crisis or who have lower incomes, public high schools, adult education programs, unemployment and Social Security benefits, college scholarship programs, public two- and four-year colleges, Job Service assistance, retraining programs, apprenticeship programs
All of these policies were created to address the needs of communities and citizens. Policies can and do change to address developing needs, better support equity, and tackle new challenges.
Data & Policy
The Center firmly believes in using data to make smart policy decisions. Data is crucial to understanding changing needs. Data also provides policymakers with evidence to create and shape policies that work to address problems and needs. The Center’s data dashboard provides the kind of county-level data that can help the Montana legislature craft strong policies to support Montana families.
The Pew Charitable Trust researches state policy across the U.S. How States Use Data to Inform Decisions outlines data-driven decision making at the state level.
Data on Children & Families
Montana Early Childhood Profile from the National Center for Children in Poverty
Family Resource Simulator from the National Center for Children in Poverty
Family Voices for children and youth with special health care needs and disabilities
Find your national representative and senators at GovTrack
Guide to the Montana Legislature – includes tips on how to get involved, how an idea turns into a bill, and more
Find your Montana legislators: Legislator Lookup