On Monday, the Department of Public Health and Human Services revealed that thousands of children in Montana may be experiencing some form of neglect or abuse. DPHHS Economic Security Services Branch Manager Shannon McDonald explains.

“As of August of this year, the number of children in the state in foster care is 3,822 compared to 3,610 at the same time last year,” said McDonald. “The number of reports to central intake of suspected abuse and neglect year to date is 13,343. Those reports resulted in 6,854 CPS investigations.”

McDonald says over half of the kids in the system were there due to some form of drug abuse.

“As of July of this year, 66.5% of open placements involved drugs,” McDonald said. “By far the highest percentage involved methamphetamine, followed by much smaller numbers in marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs. In an effort to remediate this enormous problem, we are working on a number of strategies both within the Child and Family Services division and with other partners.”

According to McDonald, the number of children removed from their homes from April to June of this year was 474. It was also reported that eight children who were involved with Child and Family Services died this year. McDonald says none of the children who died were in out-of-home care at the time.