to provide comprehensive, evidence-based resources to support the success of Montana’s children

MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today launched a new comprehensive set of resources to better equip anyone in a parenting role, youth, prevention specialists, counselors, and others with easy-to-use tools to support the success of Montana’s children from kindergarten through the teen years.

My most important and rewarding job is being a parent,” Governor Bullock said. “In Montana, we want what’s best for our kids and we all want to be the best parent possible. Now, there’s a new resource available to tackle the wide variety of challenges youth deal with and to support the success of each child in Montana.”

Parenting Montana is a universal prevention effort that braids together supportive tools grounded in evidence-based practices to help Montana families thrive. The specific goal is to cultivate a positive, healthy culture among Montana parents with an emphasis on curbing underage drinking, and to provide tools and resources to address every day parenting challenges.

Parenting Montana includes a new media campaign and website with detailed information about the many challenges youth face as they mature. The new resources include evidence-based information to many common concerns parents struggle with, such as reducing risky behaviors like underage drinking. 

I’m a parent, and I wish this resource would’ve been available to me,” Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Sheila Hogan said. “I remember having conversations with my family and friends years ago around the same issues Parenting Montana addresses. This new tool will be an excellent resource for Montanans in the years to come.”

The website is now available, and the media campaign of TV and radio PSAs will launch statewide next month. 

The website features practical tools for parents who want to know more about issues such as anger, bullying, chores, confidence, conflict, discipline, friends, homework, listening, lying, peer pressure, reading, routines and stress, and underage drinking. The tools use a socially- and emotionally-informed process that is developmentally appropriate. 

The website is organized by age-appropriate topics for age five all the way up to 19-year-olds. 

Each tool uses a five-step process for dealing with simple and challenging parenting issues. This provides parents with a way to create intentional opportunities to build their child’s social and emotional skills and avoids leaving these important skills to chance. And, the process can be implemented at any age and at any time. 

Vicki Turner of the DPHHS Prevention Resource Center points out that asking 7-year-olds to put away their backpack each day or reminding a 10-year-old to take their dishes to the sink after dinner, can become daily challenges. However, that doesn’t have to be the case if regular routines are established. “With input from your children in advance, clear roles and responsibilities can be easily established that can lead to a plan for success,” she said. 

And, for the older age group, underage drinking and several other important topics are addressed. In Montana, alcohol is the most commonly used and abused substance among youth. Motor vehicle crashes, overdoses, and suicide account for six out of every 10 deaths of children and young adults between the ages of 5 and 25 in Montana. 

Turner said research shows that parents and caregivers can reduce underage drinking. A recent 2017 survey revealed that most Montana parents (91%) disapprove of high school students drinking. Further, she said that research shows that growing social and emotional skills of youth reduces underage drinking, substance use, other risky behaviors, and suicide.

When both youth and parents have strong social and emotional skills, better academic and workplace outcomes can be achieved. Parents can develop the social and emotional skills of their children at any age while addressing common parenting challenges like establishing routines and making sure homework is completed.

By starting early, both parents and children learn to grow skills such as self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness,” Turner said. “Parents can us these same approaches with their child as they mature – thus bolstering the parents’ abilities while strengthening resiliency for the child.”

The new resources were created through a partnership with the DPHHS Addictive and Mental Disorders Division and Montana State University’s Center for Health and Safety Culture. 

Missoula’s Brandee Tyree of the Youth Connections Coalition is one of 35 state and county-funded Prevention Coordinators in Montana who work with their local communities on underage drinking and substance abuse prevention and work to help support parents and educators in helping youth make healthy choices. She said Parenting Montana is a resource that will be widely used statewide. “Parenting Montana is a resource that gives prevention specialists throughout the state the tools that we need to support our communities,” she said. 

Tyree said she and the other Prevention Coordinators recently received training on the new tools. “This will allow for a comprehensive statewide approach and help us work from the same message.” 

The website also includes a vast amount of information broken out under four major categories such as Media, Resources, the Montana Parent Survey Results and I Want to Know More.

The Media section can be used to help share these resources with others, including video, radio, and print materials. These can be shared on social media, in newsletters, or through traditional channels such as television, radio, and direct mail. All the tools and information on the website can be easily viewed, downloaded, or shared electronically. The website also has a link of how Montanans can connect with a Prevention Coordinator in their area. 

The Center for Health and Safety Culture will continue to develop additional tools and resources over the next several years.