There is a problem in Montana and Havre affecting children.
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen explains that problem.
“Montana for the last few years has been number one or two in the country as far as per capita children in foster care. It has absolutely overwhelmed our system. We don’t have enough foster families. We don’t have enough social workers.” -Montana Attorney General Knudsen
According to slacker.com in 2006 there were 1,962 children in Montana foster care. In 2016 that number increased to 3,366. Over the 10-year period the number of children in foster care increased by 71.6 percent.
Chamene Plum the Executive Director for CASA in Havre, an organization that advocates for foster children says those numbers are still increasing in the Havre area.
“In our CASA cases was 18 removals in 2021 and now 72 in 2022.”– Chamene Plum
Because of the drastic increase in kids needing to be placed in foster care Chamene echoes the Attorney general, there’s not enough volunteers or foster homes.
“We’re really short on CASA volunteers to advocate for the kids and foster homes in the area. I know that there have been children placed out of the area like Fort Benton and Great Falls into their foster homes just because we don’t have enough.”-Chamene Plum
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen blames drugs and primarily meth for the high number of kids in foster care.
“Yeah, we know what’s driving it. It’s meth, it’s fentanyl, but just from my experience as a county attorney, it’s meth. When you’ve got meth amphetamine addicted individuals who would rather do drugs and get high than take care of their children or even worse than that are willing to sell their children in order for them to get their next high. I think we do have a duty to step in with Child Protective Services and do right by those children. But that is what’s driving it. I will say that’s my opinion, but I think it’s a pretty well-informed opinion.”-Attorney General Knudsen
Chamene has also noticed meth as the primary reason for children in foster care in the Havre area.
“I can tell you the reasons for our area is meth, drugs, removal of children due to that issue in our area, a lot of the cases come through for that reason.”-Chamene Plum