A legislative committee will hear about the impact that child abuse and neglect cases have had on the Yellowstone County judicial system when it meets next week in Billings.
The Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee also will delve into two other topics it's studying in between legislative sessions -- senior and long-term care services and prenatal drug use.
The committee will meet Nov. 14-15 at the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation, 2535 St. John's Ave. The meeting is open to the public, and the agenda provides several opportunities for the public to comment on the committee's study activities and on general health and human services topics.
For the study of child abuse and neglect, two district judges -- Rod Souza and Jessica Fehr -- will discuss steps they have taken in their courtrooms to address the number of abuse and neglect cases that have come into the court system in recent years. Representatives from the Yellowstone County Attorney's Office, the Office of the State Public Defender, CASA of Yellowstone County, and the Department of Public Health and Human Services also will talk about the impact of the cases on their workloads and potential opportunities for improving the system.
Members will have a working lunch at Passages community correctional facility for women, where they will speak to some women whose children are in the foster care system.
The study is focusing on ways to support families involved in the system and reduce the number of children removed from their home.
For the study of senior and long-term care services, the committee will hear from representatives of nursing home and assisted living facilities before touring some Billings-area facilities.
Members will hear about the Montana Perinatal Behavioral Health Initiative as part of their study of prenatal drug use. They'll also visit St. Vincent Healthcare to see how the principles of that initiative are carried out in practice.
DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan will provide an update on agency activities, and members will also hear an update on a legislative study of the state budget. They'll round out the meeting with tours of the Billings Community Crisis Center and the youth psychiatric center at Billings Clinic.
Some of the site visits are open to a limited number of noncommittee members on a first-come, first-served basis. People interested in participating in the tours should contact Sue O'Connell, committee researcher, by Friday, Nov. 8, at either 406-444-3597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The meeting will begin at 8 a.m. on Nov. 14 in the meeting room of the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation. Members will recess around noon on Nov. 14 for their site visits and will reconvene at the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation at 8:45 on Nov. 15.
For more information about the meeting, including a full agenda and related materials, visit the committee's website at www.leg.mt.gov or contact Sue O'Connell.