Fight Brewing Over Child And Family Services Funding
Democratic Governor Steve Bullock blames the state’s failing child and family services system on the state legislature. Today the Republican chairman of the interim committee on child and family services shot back.
The final report of Bullock’s Protect Montana Kids Commission says there should be no debate about the need to provide additional resources on behalf of abused and neglected children in the state.
The twenty-page report recommends reintroducing bills that failed to pass last legislative session, as well as introducing new legislation to comply with federal law. The commission also recommends increasing staffing in the state's Child and Family Services Division.
Bob Runckel is interim administrator of that division.
"Without additional resources the many recommendations that were made will be unlikely to bring about meaningful improvement."
Republican Ron Ehli is Chairman of the Children, Families, Health, and Human Service Interim Committee. Ehli says he’s willing to work with the division to make improvements, but that the Bullock administration isn’t helping by blaming the legislature for this issue.
He says lawmakers are funding the state's child protection system at a higher level than ever, and that perhaps the governor should be doing more.
"If in fact the CPS is underfunded, maybe it is not because the legislature underfunded this program, maybe it is because it wasn’t a priority for this administration."
The Protect Montana Kids Commission’s report made its recommendations for improvement in May. It noted that the number of kids in foster care has increased by over a hundred percent since 2008.
Both the state administration and the members of the legislature say the state’s child protection system needs improvement.