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Fewer Kids Entering Montana's Foster Care System, Investments Helping

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

The rising number of children entering Montana’s foster care system appears to be slowing after years of sharp increases that burdened the state justice system and the caseload of health department workers.

According to the Department of Public Health and Human Services, the increase in the number of kids in foster care is stabilizing after doubling over the last decade.

Montana is almost halfway through its current fiscal year and the number of kids in foster care has risen about 1.4 percent, so far.

That’s compared to an over 12.5 percent increase in kids entering the system the previous year, and a nearly 19 percent increase the year before that.

The rising numbers of child abuse and neglect in the state has weighed down the state’s justice system because those cases are often some of the most time consuming for courts.

Bills passed out of the regular 2017 legislative session approved justice reform policies to help judges keep up with the rising caseloads.

DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan says the stabilization in the number of kids entering the foster system is due to many factors, including recent investments made by the state into child well being and new leadership within the Child and Family Services Division.

According to DPHHS there were 3,900 kids in foster care in Montana as of mid-November.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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