Oct 7, 2011 8:20 AM by Breanna Roy- KPAX News
MISSOULA- Children on at least three Montana reservations will soon benefit from a major federal grant.
The National Native Children's Trauma Center at The University of Montana received a $3.2 million award from the federal Administration for Children and Families to combat child abuse in Indian Country.
"These are not problems that are unique to native groups," University of Montana National Native Children's Trauma Center research associate Richard Manning said. "These are problems that're especially pronounced of high poverty and our reservations in Montana have unemployment rates around 75 or 80 percent. That level of poverty is very hard on children."
Manning said child abuse and neglect lie at the root of our nation's leading social problems.
"If we don't deal with these problems now, when these children are young, they end up as substance abusers in the criminal justice system or unable to work as employees," he said. "We think it's a much better investment to treat these kids now and not pay later in our prisons and drug abuse centers and hospitals."
UM's NNCTC has worked for seven years inside reservation schools with other sources of federal funding. The latest grant will allow the center to spread its resources beyond the classroom over the next three years.
"There's always been a gap working with children outside of schools, working with families, working with foster parents and preschool kids and this'll allow us to fill that gap," Manning said.
The work done in Montana will become a model for three other reservations outside of the state as part of the grant, and eventually a pilot program for reservations nationwide.