The Montana Department of Justice released a report today documenting child fatalities in situations where there was a report of possible child abuse and neglect to the Montana Child and Family Services Division of DPHHS. DOJ spokesman Eric Sell says 2017 numbers show a heartbreaking increase.

"The numbers are unfortunately up in the last 12 months from the previous 12 months. It's a pretty grim situation that is really heartbreaking and the state of Montana can do better and we must do better to provide these children, and many children in similar circumstances, the opportunity to live a healthy life."

Of the fourteen children that died over the past year even after reports to Child and Family Service, a majority were linked to drug and alcohol abuse.

"What we found was that five of these deaths were homicides, four of these deaths were ruled to be accidental: a few of these were cases where the mother was sleeping with her child and then had rolled onto the child, a case like that, and in nine of these cases it was found that substance abuse was likely a factor."

With substance abuse featuring in so many of the child fatality cases, the Attorney General's office includes in its list of recommendations to DPHHS that drug testing be required information "in every case where drug use is an allegation." Fixing a dangerous situation fast is vitally important as ten of the fourteen child fatalities were under one-year-old, only two of the fatalities were of children between the ages of four and 17.