October 14, 1999
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana
by Patricia Swan Smith
This is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and SSTEP, the local domestic violence and sexual abuse program, will be holding a forum on October 21st about how the Department of Family Services handles abuse cases after they receive a complaint. It will begin at 7 p.m. at the Double Arrow Lodge.
Don Thompson from Missoula County Department of Family Services will help host the forum, and he plans to explain what part he and the Department plays in dealing with abuse and violence in the family. Thompson works with both Seeley and Condon families.
He said that there are a lot of things that the general public does not understand about the role of the Department, and he would like to discuss some of the "can do and can't do" situations.
One of the "can't do" situations is discussing cases with those who call in the original complaint to Family Services.
After a complaint has been made, the Family Services case workers cannot discuss a case with anyone but the family.
Thompson said the information is confidential, and while it may seem that nothing happened, the department is looking into or dealing with the situation.
"Often we're involved, but it's not visible," he said. "We receive at least 2,000 calls a year. Sometimes there is a long period of time in between the call and the investigation being completed, but we do investigate every call."
Thompson also said that among other things, he hears complaints about the department either not removing the children quickly enough or removing them too quickly.
These issues are complex, and residents in the Seeley Swan Valley are urged to attend the forum.
He would also like to talk to anyone who might be interested in providing emergency foster care in the Seeley Swan area.