What can I try?

Adult Interventions

Advice for parents, teachers, counselors, and other adults.

Try to get more information from youth about your concerns, but do not ask questions that may lead them to a specific answer.

Ask about or try to find out what they need from you.

Let them know you are there for them and your priority is keeping them safe.

Make sure their immediate safety and basic needs are met to whatever degree possible.

Make sure they know who they can call or what they can do if they are in an unsafe situation. 

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Who can help?

Report to Child and Family Services

If you have reason to suspect child abuse or neglect, call the Child Abuse Hotline. This call goes to Centralized Intake for Child and Family Services in Helena. The intake worker collects the information, prioritizes it, and routes it to a local worker to follow up. Be prepared to give them your name, phone number, relationship to the family, and the reason for your call. They will also ask for the youth’s name and date of birth, parent’s name, address, phone number, other adults and children in the home, and any known mental health issues.

If you have a relationship with the parent, it is preferable to inform them of the report and if possible include them in the call. They may give first-hand information that can help Child and Family Services provide the right kind of intervention. You would not want to inform the parent if doing so increases the risk of abuse or retaliation on the child. Your information will not be disclosed to the family as the person who reported. You may also ask the intake worker how they are prioritizing the call so that you know how quickly the local worker will follow up. 

Contact Information

Child Abuse Hotline

Child Abuse Hotline

1 (866) 820-5437

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Get counseling or mental health treatment

If you are worried about abuse and neglect in your own home, get counseling or mental health treatment.

There are several different ways to seek counseling or treatment. This includes a private therapist, a school counselor, mental health center services, and/or substance abuse treatment.

Private therapists can be a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC), or a psychologist. This is usually covered by insurance and occurs weekly or every other week. Most therapists will individualize treatment and may offer more frequent sessions if needed. Youth may also receive counseling at school. This may be in the form of a school counselor who is accessible to all youth. Find out from the teacher who the school counselor is and how you and/or the youth can set up a time with them. The school counselor can give you more information about services available in the school.

Youth in crisis may need more intensive support than outpatient therapy or school counseling. Mental health centers offer a variety of services: case management, in-home services, and individual and family therapy. Some mental health centers also offer medication management. 

If this process is overwhelming, you need help finding the right fit, or you cannot wait for the first available appointment, contact the Youth Crisis Diversion Project. A crisis facilitator will meet with you within 24 business hours and guide you through the process of selecting the right service for your needs. You may also contact the Urgent Care Clinic at the Providence Center, where you can meet with a licensed clinical social worker and a psychiatric nurse within a week. 

For Missoula providers, see below. For providers in the Bitterroot Valley, click here.

Tips for Selecting a Provider.

Contact Information

Sexual Abuse/Assault

First Step

(406) 329-5776

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Seek an alternative place to stay.

If you are worried about abuse and neglect in your own home, you may also seek out an alternative place for the youth to stay while you get additional support. If you cannot find an alternative place for the youth to stay, you may call Child and Family Services as a parent and ask for help.

There are times when getting some space can stabilize a crisis. If there is a safe friend or family member in the picture, it may help for the youth to stay with them for a few nights, or until a plan can be made. If this isn't an option, a short term stay in shelter care might be. Families should contact the Youth Crisis Diversion Project to access this option. Mental health centers can access shelter care for clients with approval from their supervisor.

Youth involved with Youth Court or Child & Family Services may also access shelter care through these agencies. 

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Call 9-1-1

If you have clear information that abuse has occurred by someone outside the family, call 9-1-1 for police response. 

When calling 9-1-1, be ready to give the dispatcher the right information. This includes name: phone number, address, date of birth, people involved, a description of the situation, and what kind of help you need. It may be helpful to inform the dispatcher of the child’s mental health issues so that the responding officer is aware. Remember that 9-1-1 is an emergency response, and the goal of the responding officer will be to ensure safety and move on to the next call.

There are several possible responses by law enforcement. Law enforcement may provide support to stabilize, transport youth to the Emergency Room for evaluation, write a ticket, and/or place a youth in detention. Once law enforcement arrives, the outcome is up to their discretion. See Law Enforcement for more information.

Also visit 9-1-1 Frequently Asked Questions.

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