On any given night, about 57,000 children under the care of our nation’s child welfare systems are going to bed without the care and comfort of a family, according to a KIDS COUNT policy report released earlier this month.

The data, highlighted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in “Every Kid Needs a Family: Giving Children in the Child Welfare System the Best Chance for Success,” show children in Montana’s welfare system are more likely to live with foster families or relatives.

“Montana is doing better than most states in placing children with families,” said Jennifer Calder, communications director for Montana KIDS COUNT. Nationally, 84 percent of children in the child welfare system live in a family placement, the report shows. In 2013, of the approximately 2,200 Montana children in the child welfare system, 90 percent were placed with kin or within a foster family.

In those instances where children end up in group homes – and it’s usually teens – Montana is trying a new approach to establish secure connections through its Family Intensive Services Unit. Sarah Corbally, the administrator of the Child and Family Services Division at the Department of Public Health and Human Services, said collaborations have been key to the program’s success.

“Providers have been very supportive,” Corbally said. “We have found permanency for some of our most challenging kids even in the first four months of the ISU project.”

Research cited in the KIDS COUNT report shows secure attachments provided to children by nurturing caregivers are vital to their healthy physical, social, emotional and psychological development throughout their life.

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