Bridging gaps, and overlaps in child welfare in the Flathead

Mar 13, 2014

There are a number of groups in the Flathead working to help children in crisis. The problem is that they don’t all know each other, and gaps and overlap in services can form among these agencies.

Intermountain is a Helena-based children’s welfare organization currently operating a therapeutic group home in the Flathead, a clinic for family and child therapy, foster-care services, family visitation and case management. Intermountain recently hosted child welfare organizations from across the spectrum in the Flathead Valley. It was a type of listening session to help identify needs for children in the community. Board member Kori Dee said those who came included mental health professionals, judges, attorneys, educators, and others involved in child welfare in the Flathead Valley. She said early intervention was a need identified over and over again.

“How to train people; whether it’s the pediatrician who sees the child to identify what an at-risk child’s behaviors might be. A teacher, anybody that’s interfacing with the children, and that consistently, the idea of early intervention can then work to help that child, and also help that family,” Dee said.

Board Member Pam Schapper said something else they heard from educators is a feeling of being overwhelmed by the children at-risk in their schools

“[They] didn’t feel that they had the ability to solve all the problems, take care of all the issues, but their hearts were bleeding for these children; children who came to school without food, children who didn’t come to school because parents didn’t get them to school,” Schapper said.

What Intermountain can do to help with some of these issues remains to be seen. Those at the listening sessions will take what they heard back to their board and see what actions they can take.

Intermountain does offer training sessions and has one scheduled for the Flathead Valley in April. The training is being put on by the ChildWise Institute alongside Intermountain and focuses on child brain development. It costs 75-dollars to register, and it’s designed to provide information for educating, parenting, and treating children.

Discounts are available for parents and caregivers, and attendees need to register by April 9th.