State starting new effort to reduce child abuse, deaths

Montana's health department has announced a new effort aimed at reducing deaths due to child abuse and neglect.

Director Sheila Hogan says the agency is expanding a home visiting program for expectant mothers and young families to add five "home visitors" who will work exclusively with families involved in the child protection system.

The visitors and state child abuse caseworkers will work to arrange increased services to at-risk families including prenatal health, education on child development, safety and parent/child bonding as well as services addressing mental health issues, domestic violence or substance abuse, if needed.

The department says federal studies have shown that high quality home visiting programs reduce the instances of child abuse and neglect.

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