Opinion: A proven approach to supporting young people facing big obstacles | Chroniclers

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BARBARA FRANK

It is a critical time for the children of Montana. Children in Montana continue to face great challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including isolation and barriers to learning. In addition to this, thousands of people suffer from trauma, lack of access to basic needs, participation in foster families and parental substance use.

In my school in Missoula, a wonderful community of children from diverse cultures and backgrounds, some of our students face these extreme challenges. They are not alone. One in six Montana children (16.7%) live in food insecure families, up from 10.3% in 2018, according to Feeding America. Montana has the second highest percentage of children in foster care nationally, with nearly 4,000 children in care.

In addition, trauma and mental health issues for parents and children are a major cause for concern, with Montana’s youth suicide rates among the highest in the country.

To effectively meet these challenges, communities must work together to develop innovative and personalized responses to the needs of each child and their family.

Fortunately, a new partner is investing in Montana’s children in a deep and lasting way, to help children who face significant obstacles develop their own unique talents and achieve their own big dreams.

This week, the national organization Friends of the Children announced the launch of a Montana chapter, bringing them to 24 locations nationwide. Friends of the Children — Montana will pair the children with a paid professional mentor called Friend. Friends’ full-time jobs will be working with children one-on-one, from age 4 through high school graduation – 12 and over, no matter what. that is.


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