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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana mascot Blue Bear and several of his friends joined, Montana’s First Lady Lisa Bullock and more than 200 Jefferson Elementary School teachers and students carrying blue pinwheels in a parade to the Capitol’s front lawn on Friday, April 8 in Helena to deliver an important message: Child abuse and neglect must stop.
“Montana can lead the nation in reducing child abuse,” Jefferson Principal Lona Carter-Scanlon said. “Focusing on prevention, we can make a difference for Montana’s children. In Montana, we pull together to find solutions by working together to raise awareness.”
The Pinwheels for Prevention parade was co-sponsored by the Montana Children's Trust Fund (CTF) and BCBSMT and was held in conjunction with various other National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month activities in April.
Pinwheels for Prevention is a national public awareness campaign built around the symbol of the pinwheel, which represents a happy and uplifting symbol of childhood and conveys the message that every child deserves the chance to be raised in a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment. Hundreds of blue pinwheels were also planted on the Capitol's front lawn by CTF and BCBSMT volunteers.
“We are proud to continue our support of the Children's Trust Fund and its efforts to strengthen families across our state,” BCBSMT President Mike Frank said. “Kids are our future and we want to ensure they grow up in safe, stable, loving environments.”
BCBSMT presented a $10,000 donation to the Montana Children's Trust Fund, which will be used to disperse blue pinwheels throughout the state, as well as strengthen the annual “#GoBlue” campaign, which encourages everyone to wear blue throughout the month of April to advocate for child abuse prevention. With the support from BCBSMT, the CTF will also kick off a “Strengthening Families” campaign that will run statewide through September.
“Providing services to families and caregivers is crucial,” Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Richard Opper said. “Prevention is key. We can greatly reduce the cases of child abuse and neglect in our state if we can provide families with materials, resources, and tools before they reach moments of crisis.”
In 2015, DPHHS completed more than 8,900 investigations of child abuse and neglect involving nearly 13,000 children. The number of children in foster care continues to climb. As of March 2016 there were 3,126 Montana children in foster care, the highest number of kids in care over the past 16 years.
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