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NEWS Improving and Protecting the Health, Well-Being
and Self-Reliance of All Montanans.

Thursday April 29, 2011

Preventing child abuse, foster parent appreciation highlighted this spring in Montana

By Shirley K. Brown
Child and Family Services Division Administrator
Department of Public Health and Human Services

This is an important time of the year for children in Montana. It’s a time when the nation spotlights Child Abuse Prevention and Foster Parent Appreciation.

This spring, the Department of Public Health and Human Services, Child and Family Services Division (CFSD), has initiated statewide efforts to celebrate children. These efforts are in collaboration with the many community partners throughout Montana.  Community collaborations raise awareness about child abuse and neglect and encourage communities to support children and families. 

I’m really proud of all the statewide efforts.

One example is the annual Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Conference recently held in Helena that honored those who work so hard year round to help children.

There are other statewide examples of collaborative efforts to support children and families.  

In southwestern Montana, foster parent support groups have been established in Helena, Butte, Bozeman and Dillon.  Helena will host a workshop on head trauma in May. Both Helena and Butte have accredited Child Advocacy Centers, providing forensic interviews and services to families and victims of child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse.

In Billings, ‘Forever Families’, a local organization that provides a variety of supports to foster/adoptive parents and foster kids, including a summer camp experience for sibling groups in foster care, recently held its annual fund-raising banquet. In April, the Yellowstone Valley foster/adoptive support group sponsored an Easter Egg Hunt at Pioneer Park for area foster and adopted children. 

In Great Falls, CFSD will soon be conducting community meetings focused on child abuse and neglect prevention/education and foster parent recruitment. Many community partners and civic leaders will be invited for a panel discussion with foster parents, child protection staff, family group coordinators, birth parents, youth, and legal. The goals will be to provide community partners the opportunity to learn about the scope of CFSD services.

In Hamilton, a pin wheel garden was planted to symbolize children placed in foster care.

In Western Montana, a Missoula CFSD supervisor is reaching out to the local Exchange Club to formulate ideas on how the Club can do their part to help prevent child abuse and neglect.  In Kalispell, a Child Safety Fair was held during which local CFSD staff handed out foster care brochures, with pens, magnets for “Foster the Future”.  Foster parent appreciation activities are being scheduled for June and will be outdoor activities.

In Miles City, CFSD is offering a community training on child abuse and neglect.  The events will focus on how to identify child abuse and neglect; an overview of Montana’s laws governing this issue; and how to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Even with these efforts, there is more work to be done.

In Montana, 903 children were removed from their homes because of child abuse or neglect from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010.  The type of abuse experienced by these children includes physical neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and medical neglect. 

Montana’s children are our future - children need a safe, stable family environment.  Each individual in Montana can protect children who are being abused or neglected by reporting suspected abuse or neglect. To report concerns about a child’s safety, call 1-866-820-5437 (866-820-KIDS).  Another way to help is by learning more about becoming a licensed foster parent. To learn about becoming a foster parent, call 1-866-939-7837 (866-9FOSTER) or e-mail AskAboutFosterCare@mt.gov.

Page last updated: 07/30/2013