Montague County Child Welfare Board
The Montague County Child Welfare Board is a group of 15 volunteers who support the abused and neglected children of Montague County in CPS care. Currently there are about 67 children in CPS custody. Three quarters of these children are placed with relatives. Family members often take in these children to keep them in the area and to keep them from being placed with strangers. The responsibility of more children to care for, many times, creates a financial hardship. Sometimes it is grandparents who are living on a retirement income who take in the children. There are another 20-22 families, with approximately 40 more children, involved in family based services.
In 2011 the state rate of confirmed victims of child abuse was 9.9% of the total child population. That number for Montague County in the same year was 27.3%. The state rate of children placed in Foster Care was 4.6%. For Montague County the number of children placed in Foster Care was 15.9%.
Almost all of these cases are drug related. Meth used to be the #1 drug of choice and while it is still a huge problem here in the county, K-2 and K-3 abuse is a growing problem.
Since drug abuse is the main cause of child abuse in our county, the Child Welfare Board sponsors a drug education program every other year for all the county schools. These programs have been presented to student in grades 6-12. The CWB has designed their program after the successful “Not Even Once” campaign from Montana. While these presentations are quite graphic they really make an impression on the students who view them.
In an effort to do more drug education and awareness, next school year the CWB is proposing to have one day per 6 weeks for a drug education lesson and a “Not even Once” theme. We plan to select a color for everyone to wear to show support and we are asking the communities to get involved by wear this color and asking businesses and churches to put “Not Even Once” on their signs. We are hoping that re-visiting this subject each 6 weeks will keep the idea of the dangers of drugs, tobacco and alcohol fresh on the minds of our children. So, stay tuned for more information to come!
The operations of the Child Welfare Board are funded entirely by fund raisers and private donations from individuals, local businesses, churches and community organizations. 100 % of the donations received go to the children. There are no administrative costs.
Two main fund raisers are held each year. The Ranch Rodeo held in conjunction with Western Heritage Days in Bowie, TX and a Gala held in October in Nocona, TX. There will be two new events this year connected with Western Heritage Days, a trail ride and a bicycle ride. Western Heritage Days will be held September 28th and 29th in Bowie. An additional fund raiser is planned next year. Donna Howell Sickles from Saint Jo is putting together a Plein Air Art festival. Well-known artists will come to the county and paint at various locations. The art will then be auctioned off.
The type of support provided ranges from a tank of gas to get to a doctor’s appointment to fees for little league sports. The CWB has provided beds and bedding, paid electric bills to keep the heat on, bought groceries and diapers when payday was just too far away. The CWB rarely, if ever, turns down a request from a family. If the request is too big, members can usually find other resources to help with the need. Members also make sure every child receives a Birthday card with a gift card inside.
Two of our major expenses each year are the “Back to School” gift cards and Christmas presents. Families use the “Back to School” gift cards to shop for clothes and school supplies. In December our Board members and volunteers shop and wrap gifts for the children. Without this, these children would have little or no Christmas. This is our attempt to provide at least some level of normalcy to their lives. They often ask for basic needs such as shoes, clothing or something for their parents or siblings.