FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 21, 2015
Dave Parker, Communications Director, 444.9844
Mike Wessler, Deputy Communications Director, 444.9725
Missoula, Mont.—During a visit to First Step Resource Center, today Governor Steve Bullock announced the “Protect Montana Kids” initiative to improve systems serving children and families in the state. At the announcement, he was joined by Rep. Kim Dudik, a longtime advocate for vulnerable children.
“One of our most important obligations is to protect child victims of abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, for decades our child and family services system has been overburdened and under-resourced, compromising the ability of frontline workers to effectively do their jobs,” Bullock said. “Today, I’m announcing a series of improvements to this system to better serve children and families across Montana. These improvements are an important step as we continue to work to find ways to bolster this system.”
The Protect Montana Kids Initiative will focus on immediate system improvements, system reviews, and statutory recommendations for the 2017 legislative session.
Immediate improvements that Bullock announced include:
- Increasing capacity and skills of frontline workers by hiring 33 additional frontline staff, continuous evaluations and improvements of training, and building a new electronic system to improve case management;
- Bolstering supervision and oversight of frontline workers by alleviating caseloads for supervisors, thus freeing them up to prioritize oversight responsibilities, and development of a formalized process for monitoring compliance with statutory and regulatory timelines; and
- Using evidence-based practices to provide statewide consistency in investigations, assessments, and family involvement and supports.
Bullock also announced that he signed an executive order to create the Protect Montana Kids Commission, whose purpose will be to make recommendations on aligning the Montana child protection system with national standards and best practices in the field of child welfare.
Finally, Bullock ordered the Montana Department of Health and Human Services to provide quarterly updates on case load statistics and compliance with statutory timelines.
“The Protect Montana Kids Initiative is an important step toward keeping children in our state safe,” said Rep. Kim Dudik of Missoula. “However, this is only the first step. We must continue to find ways to improve our state’s child and family services system to make it more transparent and better serve its clients, this includes passing legislation.”
More information about the steps Bullock announced today can be found at: http://governor.mt.gov/Portals/16/docs/2015PressReleases/FinalProtectMontanaKidsInitiativeSummary.pdf