Governor Steve Bullock and Attorney General Tim Fox today announced their appointees to the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Commission.
“Our kids are counting on us to work together and do everything possible to ensure their safety and provide for a brighter future, even in the most unimaginable situations,” said Bullock “This is a bipartisan effort and I’m confident this team will have a positive impact on Montana’s most vulnerable children.”
“Montana’s communities have experienced an alarming trend in the number of child abuse and neglect cases in recent years,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “This trend is clearly tied to parental substance abuse, and is just one of the serious issues Child Abuse and Neglect Review Commission members will be tasked with reviewing to improve outcomes for Montana’s at-risk children. We thank this diverse group for their willingness to serve,” Attorney General Fox added.
Governor Bullock signed into law House Bill 303 in April, creating the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Commission. The Governor and Attorney General are tasked with appointing members to the Commission who represent law enforcement, the judiciary, foster parents, health care providers, Montana Indian Tribes, the Legislature, and others. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services will oversee the Commission.
Governor Bullock – Child Abuse and Neglect Review Commission Appointees:
- Representative of an organization that works with homeless children and youth: Georgia Cady, Director of Human Trafficking and Drop In Center, Tumbleweed Runaway Program
- Medical provider with experience in treating co-occurring disorders: Abby Eyre, therapist in private practice working with trauma survivors and victims of domestic violence
- Representative of private organizations involved in matters related to child abuse and neglect: Nichole Griffith, Executive Director and a Crime Victim Advocate for Victim-Witness Assistance Services.
- Medical provider who is involved in matters related to child abuse and neglect: Mary Pat Hansen, Clinical Supervisor for the First Step Resource Center at Providence Saint Patrick Hospital.
- Representative of the Child and Family Services Division of the Department of Public Health and Human Services Division: Laura Weiss Smith, Deputy Director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
- Representative of the Montana Indian tribes: Arlene Templer, Director of the Department of Human Resource Development for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
- Licensed provider who serves children with disabilities: Jenn Wihlborg, Statewide Mental Health Residential Service Director for AWARE, Inc.
Attorney General Fox – Child Abuse and Neglect Review Commission Appointees:
- The child and family ombudsman: Traci Shinabarger, Office of Child and Family Ombudsman
- A representative of law enforcement: Dan Mayland, Detective, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office
- A representative of the judiciary: Katherine “Kitty” Curtis, Retired District Court Judge, Flathead County
- An attorney who litigates in the area of child abuse and neglect, including an attorney who represents children and court-appointed special advocates: Scott Pederson, Contract Deputy County Attorney for Carbon County and Guardian ad Litem for 13th Judicial District (Yellowstone County)
- A licensed foster parent: Shonna Larkey
- An adult who was a former victim of child abuse and neglect: Sasha Joseph Neulinger
- A member of the legislature: Frederick “Eric” Moore
The multi-disciplinary Child Abuse and Neglect Review Commission will be tasked with reviewing trends of abuse and neglect. The Commission will examine patterns of child fatalities and near fatalities, educate the public, service providers and policymakers about child abuse and neglect, and provide a written report to the Governor, the Legislature, and the Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court to inform discussion of policies and practices that may reduce fatalities.
Governor Bullock signed an executive order in 2015 to create the Protect Montana Kids Commission. After undergoing an unprecedented review of Montana’s child protection system, Governor Bullock and the Protect Montana Kids Commission provided evidence-based recommendations to the Montana Legislature to improve case management, provide statewide consistency, and give further support to Montana families and children. In addition to HB 303, Governor Bullock signed into law four bipartisan bills this legislative session to increase services and protections for Montana’s kids in the foster care system.