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What's Happening at the Forum
"Arrive Alive: Your Choices Matter" Mock Crash 
Missoula Community Presents Mock Crash for Missoula Area Sophomores
Wednesday,  April 19th @ 9:30am
Ogren Park at Allegiance Field, Missoula

Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in the US? (CDC) Or that every 90 seconds, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash, and every 53 minutes someone dies in a drunk driving crash? (Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) 

On April 19th, 2017, over 1,300 sophomores from the Missoula area will be attending the annual  "Arrive Alive: Your Choices Matter" Mock Crash demonstration at Ogren Park Allegiance Field. They will be transported to Osprey Stadium to participate in an educational re-enactment of a crash caused by distracted driving. This event is part of our community's efforts to reduce the devastating injuries and/or deaths resulting from teen distracted driving and driving under the influence. 

The Mock Crash will provide a realistic look at the serious and horrifying consequences of distracted driving, lack of seat belt use and driving under the influence while reminding youth that their "Choices Matter" and to make smart choices when they get into a vehicle. This is the second year that the event will focus on distracted driving, which is a growing problem among Montana drivers. In fact, Montana Highway Patrol statistics state that driver cell phone usage contributed to 1,614 crashes from 2004 to 2013. In addition, Montana teens reported that during the past 30 days, 43.8% of them texted or e-mailed while driving a car or other vehicle.  (Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2015) 

Many community agencies donate their time and services for this event, such as St. Patrick Hospital; along with Community Medical Center, Life Flight Network Air Medical, Missoula Emergency Services Ambulance, Missoula County Sheriff, Montana Highway Patrol, Missoula City Police, Missoula City Fire, Missoula Rural Fire, Red's Towing, Garden City Funeral Homes, Beach Transportation, Missoula Osprey, Missoula Forum for Children and Youth and Missoula County Schools. This is first time that the event will be held at Ogren Park at Allegience Field and community organizers for this event are especially excited about this new partnership. 

The mock crash will be presented at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 19th at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field, over 1,300 students will be bused from area schools for the presentation. 

Note: that on April 19th, local residents may hear sirens and see multiple emergency vehicles in the area of Ogren Park at Allegiance Field, but should not be alarmed.
Register for this Event! 
State of the Young Child 2017
Tuesday,  April 25th
Hilton Garden Inn, Missoula

Training - $10
8:00am - 11:00am
 Sexual Behaviors in Young Children:  Recognizing Concerning vs. Healthy Sexual Behavior
Trainer:  MC Jenni, MSW,  Care Coordinator at First Step Resource Center, Providence St. Patrick Hospital
Introduction to the Community Resiliency Model (CRM)
Trainer:  Dana Eisenberg, LCSW

Luncheon - $20
11:30am - 1:00pm
Keynote Speaker:  Mike Halligan, Executive Director, Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation
Leaders in health, business, and early childhood are invited to participate in this event highlighting issues that impact young children and families in Missoula. In order for a child to grow up to become a healthy and productive adult, they need to have quality early childcare, education, and healthcare.  At this luncheon we will be discussing:
  • why investing in early childhood is so important;
  • creative solutions to address childcare scarcity; and
  • how the medical community and childcare/service providers can better connect to support families.
After the Luncheon there will be community discussion held at 1:15 pm.  We will be discussing "Supporting Families and Strengthening Your Workforce."  Luncheon attendees are invited to stay after to learn more about ways that businesses can help support families and discuss next steps for our community.

To learn more about the the event or how to register, go to  
Week of the Young Child Event for Families! 
Free Family Night at A Carousel for Missoula
Monday,  April 24th
4:00pm - 5:30pm
101 Carousel Drive, Missoula

We are inviting Missoula families to join us for a FREE night of carousel rides for kids to celebrate "Week of the Young Child!" Be sure to mark your calendars for this great event!  There will be free carousel rides and hot cocoa!   

For questions or to learn more about the event contact Leah Fitch at  or call 406-258-3020.
Montana Legislative News
Important:   The information provided here is to collect news stories about relevant bills coming up in the 2017 Montana Legislative Session. This is for educational and informational purposes only and is not a reflection of the opinion of this office.
Substance Abuse Treatment

"New Montana Law Expands Availability of Substance Abuse Treatment"

When the Bakken oil boom peaked, and substance abuse spiked along with it, Jim Novelli wished he could have offered substance abuse treatment out of his clinic's offices near the North Dakota border.

Even though Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center provides mental health and substance abuse services across most of the eastern side of the state, it couldn't treat people for drug and alcohol addiction in Dawson County under a 40-year-old law that only allowed one state-approved provider in an area.

"Unfortunately for some of the people that follow the oil, that comes with the consequences of sometimes of drugs and alcohol," said Novelli, the executive director of center. "There was quite a bit of need for services."

But this summer the decades-old limit will be lifted and Novelli plans to start offering services out of the center's satellite office in Glendive.

In the 1970s when there weren't enough treatment centers, the state established a law against duplicating services as a way to encourage clinics to spread geographically instead of concentrating in a few areas.

"It was set up so that we could have coverage across the state," said Zoe Barnard, director of the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division of the state Department of Public Health and Human Services. "That was the original intent. But over time it turned into a situation where there couldn't be any duplication and there was only one."

This spring the Legislature erased that requirement with a bill recently signed into law. While any new center that opens must demonstrate a need in the area it plans to serve, it's expected the change will lead to more state-approved providers.

Being state-approved means clinics can get reimbursement for services from a federal block grant and can access county money that comes from a tax collected on alcohol sales. State-approved facilities also can bill Medicaid for patients covered under that state-federal program.
In 2015 Montana chose to expand its Medicaid program under the Montana Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership, or HELP, Act, which extended coverage to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The 71,000 Montanans who signed up for coverage under expansion gained access to insurance that included substance abuse treatment.

"When that passed, we had to go in and look at what we were providing and figure out how it fit in with Medicaid," Barnard said. "The statute kept coming up and presenting problems because if you're going to try to improve access to care and you only have one provider per area, obviously you're going to have a limitation on access."

Link to Article
Care for Medicaid Recipients

"Even with Tobacco Tax Killed, Direct Care Workers Might get a Raise"

A state lawmaker has found a new way to pay for raises to those who provide direct care for people who have developmental disabilities and the elderly.

The move by Sen. Mary Caferro, D-Helena, comes a week after Republicans killed a tobacco tax that would have increased the cost of a pack of cigarettes by $1.50 and used some of the increase to give raises to people that care for Medicaid recipients who are elderly or disabled.

Caferro on Thursday brought a set of amendments to House Bill 638, carried by Rep. Jon Knokey, R-Bozeman. She said the "writing was on the wall" that bill wouldn't be able to provide raises with the failure of the tobacco tax.

The first change calls for a $3-an-hour raise phased in over two years, as opposed to the $5 the original bill called for. Without the bump in tobacco tax, Caferro proposed to pay for the increase by allocating a portion of any money the state brings in over what it's expected to.
The amendment puts a trigger in place to direct revenues beyond what's projected to wage increases and caps the amount that can go to wages. In the first year, if there are excess revenues, $2.8 million would go to wage increases. In the second year, the cap is $6.5 million.
"In the event we leave town and there's extra money I think it should go to pay for these raises," Caferro said. "These are the people who do the important work of caring for those people who have developmental disabilities in our state."

The amendment passed the Senate Finance and Claims Committee unanimously.
Sen. Albert Olszewski, R-Kalispell, spoke in support of the amendment, saying that the state in effect rations health care by not paying direct care workers enough, which limits the number of people who go into those jobs.

The infusion of money would end after two years, and Caferro said she hopes in that time the state will find another way to keep the pay increases in place.

The bill does not interfere with a Senate bill carried by Sen. Eric Moore, R-Miles City, that pays for infrastructure projects through bonding. Moore's bill also uses excess revenues, in his case to pay down bonding.

Caferro also got an amendment passed that will give raises to direct care workers who care for the elderly. The raises, $1.50 in the first year and 75 cents in the second, would come from the Older Montanans Trust Fund.

The fund was set up from general revenue money in 2007 but was raided in 2011 to make up for a hole in the state budget. Since then, the fund has not taken in any more money and has hovered at around $1.2 million.

Local News
Child Abuse Prevention Month

"Missoulian Editorial: Focus on Prevention to Stop Child Abuse, Neglect"

In Montana, more than 3,000 children are currently in state custody - the highest number ever. The vast majority of these children are in the state foster care system because they have been abused or neglected by the people they depended on to care for them.

In Missoula, the number of child abuse and neglect cases jumped from 110 cases filed with the Missoula County Attorney's Office in 2013 to 173 cases in 2015. County Attorney Kirsten Pabst noted "a direct correlation between meth and child abuse and neglect and serious domestic abuse cases," and subsequently increased the number of civil division attorneys handling child abuse cases to three.

State custody should be the last resort after all other options are exhausted. If a child cannot be safe with immediate family, then extended family or even close family friends should be considered before state care.

But what if at-risk children could stay with their parents, and be safe? What if Montana, instead of dedicating so many resources to punishing abusive parents and then trying to heal hurt children, could instead prevent abuse and neglect from happening in the first place?
Prevention. That should be the focus of Montana's efforts, its systems and its limited dollars.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and like communities across the United States, Missoula is participating in Pinwheels for Prevention. The county will be carpeted with 10,000 blue pinwheels for the month, and today, the Montana Children's Trust Fund will be covering the Capitol lawn in Helena with pinwheels.

The month will bring other special events focused on child abuse and neglect, including the annual Child Abuse and Neglect Conference organized by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. This year, the conference will be held April 19-21 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula.

The aim of all these efforts is to not only raise awareness of the growing problem of child abuse, but to gather support for prevention. They happen to be taking place at a time of heightened scrutiny of Montana's child protection system.

School Start Times

"Delayed School Start Times Present Hurdles, but Should be Considered, Superintendent Says"

Later start times for three of Missoula's high schools was recommended Tuesday night at the Missoula County Public School Board of Trustees meeting.

MCPS Superintendent Mark Thane has asked the community, MCPS trustees and school officials to consider delaying the start time to 8:30 a.m. at Big Sky, Sentinel and Hellgate high schools. The recommendation comes from a working group Thane convened in  November 2016.

Big Sky High starts at 7:50 a.m. Hellgate High starts at 7:50 a.m., unless students choose to take a "zero period" class, which starts at 6:50 a.m. Sentinel High begins at 7:55 a.m.; zero period starts at 7 a.m.

The shift would not affect Willard Alternative or Seeley-Swan high schools, Thane said. Willard already starts at 8:30 a.m. Seeley-Swan starts at 7:53 a.m., but it has a four-day week schedule, which already adds length to the school days.

The working group, made up of 24 people from within and outside of MCPS, met for five two-hour sessions from November 2016 through February 2017,  according to a report presented to the trustees during Tuesday's meeting.

While there are potential hurdles to implementing a later start time, there are potential solutions as well, Thane said. The consensus of the school start committee was that an 8:30 a.m. or later start time would be the healthiest option for Missoula high school students, Thane said.

Atticus Lonski, a freshman at Hellgate high, spoke in support of changing the time at the meeting.

He said he is always tired during school, which makes it hard to concentrate. People who care about student success should want to change high school start times, he added.

Link to Article
Congolese Refugee Families in Missoula

"In Search of Home: Refugees Struggle for a Place in Missoula"

Joel Kombale entered his family's starkly decorated Missoula apartment in early spring 2017 to his three young children bouncing up and down on the living room couch. He had just gotten home from playing in a pick-up soccer game at McCormick Park, reminiscent of the games played in the refugee camp where he had spent 20 years of his life. His wife, Justine, sat on the couch opposite her children dressed in a colorful, full-length African dress, the bright orange, yellow and purple in stark opposition to the white and brown color scheme of the apartment. She listened as her children chatted about school and their favorite animals, the youngest blushing with excitement at the thought of one day meeting and petting her favorite -  a horse.

Just eight months before, the family had arrived in Missoula after spending two decades living in the dire conditions of a Tanzanian refugee camp. The Kombale children, ages 10, 7 and 4, were born in the camp. Their parents, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, had spent the majority of their lives there. 

"We've been refugees for 20 years, since 1996," Kombale said. "This one," pointing at Justine, "left the Congo at 14 years. As you can now see, we are now old. I am an old man," he said.
Before settling in for dinner, the children head outside for a couple moments of play, complete with a blue hula hoop and a bike. This friendly scene of the family's present reality is hard to reconcile with their past lives in the refugee camp, where conditions were desperate and harsh, with limited resources and scant living space. 

Thousands of people live in close proximity within the confines of the camp,  and makeshift homes are usually pieced together with plastic bags, used bedding and anything else that can provide shelter from the harsh African sun. Often destroyed by wind, rain and armed burglars, these homes provide little comfort for the hundreds of families who reside in them. Infection, disease, poor sanitation and malnutrition are common daily struggles for the Africans who live in limbo. Refugees often marry in the camps, give birth to their children in the camps and die in the camps. The Kombales managed to avoid the third. 

The Kombale family arrived in Missoula in July 2016, along with 22 other refugees, with the help of the International Rescue Committee and Soft Landing Missoula. The quiet bustle of the mountain town promised much-needed solace after their long journey. However, like many who dream of living in an idealistic version of America, the realities of daily life in a foreign place are less than perfect. 

Upcoming Events & Announcements
Every Tuesday through May
"Walk With A Doc"
Tuesdays at Noon
Meet north of Third Street, at the Milwaukee Trail, on Catlin 
 Community members are invited to trek a 2-mile expanse of the Milwaukee Trail, as part of Community Cancer Care and Prevention Center's Missoula Walk with a Doc program. The program launches at noon Tuesday, Feb. 14, and will continue every Tuesday through May.
Saturday, April 15th
Diversity Day 2017
Missoula Senior Center
7:00pm - 10:00pm
Join Empower Montana, their Youth Advisory Council, Youth Forward, and their after school clubs, EPIC (Empowering People, Inspiring Change). Featuring showcases of youth talent which include song, dance, and spoken word.
Job Opening
The Parenting Place
Social Worker (Full-time)
Facilitate parenting classes and work one on one with families in need of parenting support.
Applicant must have a BA in Social Work or a related field, as well as experience with families and children. Previous class facilitation is preferred. Starting wage is $13.25/hr. 
To apply with The Parenting Place, bring a resume to 1644 S. 8th St. W., Monday-Thursday 9-5pm, or email to
Job Opening
Missoula Early Head Start
ERSEA (Enrollment) Specialist 
Part-time, 20 hrs/week; occasional weekend/night events
This position is responsible for program requirements regarding eligibility and enrollment of children (and pregnant women) into Missoula Early Head Start. Limited voluntary benefits available.  Wage/hour: $15.09 per hour.  CLOSING DATE: April 21, 2017 (No later than 5pm)
If you are interested in applying, please submit a completed employment application and resume to Missoula Job Service.
Job Opening
Mountain Home Montana
Adult Intensive Case Manager
Full-time, not a traditional 9-5 schedule.  Participate in "on-call" rotation.  Provide intensive case management services through the implementation of individual treatment plans, case coordination, and advocacy.  
Wednesday, April 19th
The Wilma
6:00pm - 10:00pm
Doors and silent auction at 6PM; Show at 7PM
Films by and about women hosted by YWCA Missoula's GUTS! program.
Proceeds go to support the GUTS! program including scholarships for the summer outdoor adventure and the Breast Cancer Research Fund.
Thursday, April 20th
Basics of Resilience
The Learning Center at Red Willow
6:00pm - 8:00pm
During this free workshop, we will explore what makes us resilient and learn some simple techniques to help you utilize your resilience as well as options to expand and build upon those practices. Come prepared to explore!
April 21st - April 22nd
49th Annual Kyiyo Pow Wow
Adams Event Center
Join Kyiyo Native American Student Association as they host one of the oldest student organized pow wows in the nation. General admission $5 a session or $12 for a weekend pass.
Tuesday, April 25th
Paper Tigers Documentary
Missoula Public Library - conference room
4:30pm - 6:30pm ( Childcare Available)
The Parenting Place and the Missoula Public Library present a free screening of the documentary film, Paper Tigers. This is the second of two screenings of 'Paper Tigers' in lieu of April's Child Abuse Prevention Month. 
Saturday, April 29th
Parent Education Workshop
Western Montana Addiction Services (1321 Wyoming St., Basement Conference Room)
12:00pm - 2:00pm
For parents of adolescents to learn more about addiction and receive support on setting boundaries and communicating more effectively.
Tuesdays, May 2nd - May 23rd
Circle of Security Free 4-week Class
Child and Family Services Network
Tuesdays 11:00am - 1:00pm 
(All 4 classes required to complete the program)
Circle of Security Parenting is a relationship-based program built on five-decades of research.  The class includes videos, reflection, and discussion to help us better understand and respond to the needs of our children. Childcare vouchers and lunch provided.
Friday, May 12th
Childwise Institute Spring Conference:  
"The Trauma Informed School" 
Holiday Inn,  Great Falls
8:30am - 4:00pm
Jim Sporleder will present his new Administrative Guide "The Trauma-Informed School" A step-by-step implementation guide for Administrators and School Personnel.
$200 Registration Fee
Attend a Coalition Meeting!
Healthy Start
Thursday, April 20th, 2017
General: 9:00am - 10:00am
SOTYC Planning Mtg: 10:00am - 11:00am
Location:  YMCA Missoula
3000 S. Russell St., Missoula, MT 59801
Coordinator Anna Semple
Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017
General meeting:  9:00am - 10:30am 
MAC meeting: 10:30am - 11:30am
Location: Salvation Army Community Center
355 S. Russell St., Missoula, MT 59801
Coordinator Brandee Tyree

Rx Task Force 
Next Meeting TBD
Coordinator Brandee Tyree
Missoula Forum for Children and Youth 
223 W. Alder St.
Missoula, MT 59802


Contact Forum Staff
MUSAP Coordinator -  Brandee Tyree
YDN & Healthy Start Coordinator -  Anna Semple
Outreach Coordinator -  Leah Fitch
The findings and conclusions in these newsletter materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of The Missoula Forum for Children & Youth.