HELENA — Five hundred bright blue pinwheels were placed on the Montana State Capitol's lawn for Strengthening Families Month on Thursday.
The pinwheels symbolize childhood and how every child deserves a safe and nurturing environment for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
"It is important that we do call our attention for the public to know that if there are issues, they are seeing, they should report them, but also there are resources available,” said Adam Meier, Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director.
According to DPHHS, in 2018, more than 4,000 children were in foster care, and now there are just over 3,000.
DPHHS also oversees 350 adoptions a year.
Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras says it's essential to recognize the social workers of Montana.
"It's an honor to be here today, but it is hard to be here today because this is a tough topic. I do not even want to recognize that child abuse happens in Montana, but sadly those of us here know it does. I deeply and personally want to thank each one of you," said Juras.
According to DPHHS, the potential child abuse and neglect hotline receives 30,000 calls annually. About 9,000 calls get investigated with sufficient evidence, and about 1,800 kids come into foster care due to those investigations.
DPHHS wants the community to remember the resources available to them.
"There are resources available to help prevent abuse and neglect to make sure they turn towards DPHHS and other community organizations, and we will make sure they will find access to resources because there are a lot of resources available," said Meier.
Anyone who suspects a case of child abuse and neglect is urged to call the toll-free hotline at 1-866-820-5437.