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Great Falls hosts 'Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Conference'

Child Welfare
Posted at 4:50 PM, Apr 09, 2024

GREAT FALLS — On Monday the Heritage Inn in Great Falls hosted the Montana Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Conference as part of "No More Violence Week."

Nearly 500 people gathered in person for the yearly conference. According to the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Service, foster care has been steadily declining for years, with 1,700 fewer cases of foster care in March 2024 than March of 2019.

The conference aims to bring together people who fight for child welfare and celebrate those making a difference.

“This is a great opportunity to bring community providers, state employees together and really celebrate keeping children safe and families strong,” said Nikki Grossberg, Division Administrator for Child & Family Services.

Awards such as Foster Parent of the Year and Foster Youth Award were given out, as well as a variety of awards for Child Family Services staff, including engagement, creative solutions, and leadership.

Receiving the award for Foster Parent of the Year was Danyell Ocheltree, who has been adopting and fostering kids for nearly seven years.

In total, Ocheltree has helped more than 30 children. Ocheltree loves helping make children’s lives better, and while the award and recognition is nice, it is not what motivates her.

“I don't need an award. I get my rewards in smiles and, you know…I don't do it for recognition,” Said Ocheltree, “I don't do it for money. I don't…you know, it's my heart. I feel it's my God calling.”

The conference featured speakers and booths from child welfare programs around the state, each highlighting how much of an impact anyone can have on a child’s life.

“If you don't think you can make a difference in something small like that for a brief moment, for a day or like I said, a lifetime, you can,” Said Ocheltree.

If you missed the conference but still want to make a difference, there are multiple No More Violence events still to come this week. Information can be found by clicking here. Additional resources can be found here.