|NEWS||Improving and Protecting the Health, Well-Being
and Self-Reliance of All Montanans.
March 30, 2012
Help prevent child abuse and neglect; consider becoming a licensed foster parent
Child and Family Services Division Administrator
Department of Public Health and Human Services
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is raising awareness this spring about the prevention of child abuse and neglect and the need for foster parents.
For most people, child abuse and neglect is difficult to grasp. Yet, it continues to happen all over our nation and Montana is no exception.
Thousands of calls are made every year to our toll-free child abuse hotline at 1-866-820-KIDS.
To raise awareness about the hotline, DPHHS has launched a media campaign called ‘Raise Your Voice for Montana Kids’ that includes a radio PSA and posters promoting the child abuse hotline. One line in the radio ad asks people to ‘please, stand up for a child today.’
The ad played on radio stations all over Montana last winter and will again this spring, and the posters have been distributed to numerous locations across the state.
We’ve also taken time to listen our constituents. Since January 2012, policy changes have been made that we think will improve the current system. At this time we are evaluating our Centralized Intake system – where calls are assessed by staff to determine the appropriate level of response. Part of this evaluation will include seeking feedback from stakeholders. DPHHS recently conducted a survey related to mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect that produced over 1,200 responses. The survey is open until May 1 and is available online at dphhs.mt.gov. Just click into the ‘Raise Your Voice’ link.
As we continue to gather information, we’ll listen and make changes as appropriate.
A new safety assessment has also been implemented. The assessment is part of an evidence-informed practice model with 35 years of research to support it. This assessment is designed to more accurately identify children as safe or unsafe during investigations.
Montana children who have been abused or neglected often face both physical and emotional challenges. It is the job of the DPHHS Child and Family Services Division to keep children safe. Until a permanent placement is found –children are placed with foster parents.
In Montana, there are about 1,000 foster, kinship and therapeutic families. DPHHS is extremely grateful to those who have opened their doors.
Every spring at the annual Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Conference in Helena, numerous awards are given out to those who have made contributions to the mission of keeping kids safe. One of the awards goes to the Resource Family of the Year. It’s an award that is presented to dedicated foster parents who provide endless love, nurturing and support for Montana children.
Montana is fortunate to have so many caring people who are willing help with this cause.
In Montana, 968 children were removed from their homes because of child abuse or neglect from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011. The type of abuse experienced by these children includes physical neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and medical neglect.
Montana 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-KIDS (5437). 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.