Montana Lawmakers Advance Bill Targeting Child Abuse And Neglect

Feb 28, 2017

The Montana House endorsed a bill Monday that would require the state health department to work with other organizations to develop a plan to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Democratic Representative Kimberly Dudik is the sponsor of House Bill 517.

"Many of us have heard of the staggering statistics of child abuse in our state and the increase in our court system and the impact of our families from this," says Dudik.

The bill calls for a comprehensive plan that would discuss the degree to which child abuse and neglect is occurring, the effects of the abuse, risk factors and prevention efforts that reduce the potential for abuse. It also requires the department work with other state, local and tribal agencies to do so.

Republican Representative Nancy Ballance supported the bill but said the department should already have a strategic plan in place.

"This is their job," says Ballance. "This is their job every single day, and if they don’t have a strategic plan now, it is not the legislature’s responsibility to bring them a request for a strategic plan."

Representative Dudik said the department does have plans, but they aren’t comprehensive. Her bill requires one more vote in the House in order to advance to the Senate.