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Montana falls short in foster care data collection, survey finds

States like Montana struggle to get information about abuse and neglect inside residential foster care facilities like group homes and emergency shelters.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General surveyed every state about what data state officials collect on abuse and neglect in licensed foster care facilities.

The report found that a third of states don’t have enough information to identify patterns of abuse in the foster care system. Many states also don’t track abuse at chains of residential facilities and struggle to get reports from out-of-state homes.

The report found that Montana doesn’t track information in all three of those categories.

Tal Goldin with Disability Rights Montana says this has been a long-standing issue nationwide. While he supports federal officials’ suggestions to help states improve data collection, he thinks they could mandate it.

“Entities tend not to collect data unless they’re legally required to collect it. Mandating tends to be helpful, but also tends to get a lot of resistance,” said Goldin

Goldin says this kind of tracking is becoming more important as more for profit entities and private equity move into the industry.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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