Many involved in social services in Montana have reported that 2017 was a tough year, not only because of possible state cuts, but also because of a spike in the need for services. Katie Gerten with Youth Dynamics in Missoula says the number of children in need of foster care or behavioral and mental health services was indeed unusually high.

"It has been a rough year, we have seen a large increase in children and families that need services," Gerten said. "I think the amount of kids we served went up by about 700 from previous years. Annually we serve about 1,200 kids, but in 2017 we served close to 2,000."

The number of children in need of foster care specifically has skyrocketed, nearly doubling in less than two years to an all-time high.

"In April of 2015, there were 2,200 kids in need of foster care, then in December of 2015 there were 2,775. In August of 2017, the number was 3,694 and as of November 1, there were 3950 kids in the Montana Foster System," Gerten said. "The number is increasing steadily and is not showing any sign of dropping off. "

The number of children in need of foster care could easily cross the 4,000 mark before the end of the year and that need is far above Montana’s historic ability to provide foster homes. As of mid December, there are only 1,523 foster homes currently approved to provide care, that means less than 40 percent of the children in need have a chance of getting a foster home placement.


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