Governor Steve Bullock today held a signing ceremony for four critical bills focused on expanding services, and promoting the safety and well-being of kids in foster care.
“As a father and as governor, protecting the health and safety of Montana’s kids is a top priority,” said Governor Bullock. “Protecting children is a team effort. Thanks to bipartisan support from legislators who recognize that the safety of our kids is too important for political games, we’re taking much needed steps to watch out for the most vulnerable among us.”
These bills come at the recommendation of Governor Bullock’s Protect Montana Kids Commission and with bipartisan support:
- House Bill 173, sponsored by Rep. Kim Dudik, establishes permanency timelines for children in foster care and expedites the process of legally establishing permanency for children whether through reunification with their family, adoption, or guardianship.
- House Bill 201, sponsored by Rep. Rob Cook, appoints a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, if available and in every judicial proceeding, as the guardian ad litem for any child alleged to be abused or neglected to ensure that the child’s interests in the proceedings are heard.
- House Bill 351, sponsored by Rep. Kim Dudik, requires foster homes to normalize the experience of youth in foster care by supporting developmental growth through extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities, and gives youth 14 years of age or older input in their permanency plan.
- Senate Bill 113, sponsored by Sen. Eric Moore, improves transparency and allows legislators and members of Congress to review of child welfare records for the purpose of evaluating the adequacy of Montana’s child abuse laws and regulations.
Governor Bullock signed an executive order in 2015 to create the Protect Montana Kids Commission. After undergoing an unprecedented review of Montana’s child protection system, Governor Bullock and the Commission provided evidence-based recommendations to the Montana Legislature to improve case management, provide statewide consistency, and give further support to Montana families and children.