MISSOULA — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) awarded Missoula’s Friends of the Children a $50,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® (HKHF) grant Thursday, Sept. 2, to strengthen the organization’s ability to impact long-term outcomes for children facing challenges such as intergenerational poverty, trauma, and risk of entry into the foster care system.
“We’re proud to invest in innovative organizations that support children and their families throughout Montana,” said John Doran, BCBSMT Divisional Vice President of External Affairs. “The important work Friends of the Children will do with this funding bolsters our desire to build stronger Montana communities through strategic investments. Children are the foundation of our state’s future and Friends of the Children’s work promises to strengthen that foundation.”
The HKHF initiative is an ongoing commitment by BCBSMT to invest in and partner with like-minded nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs to reach children and their families in the five following focus areas: nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, substance abuse prevention, and suicide prevention.
Friends of the Children is a national youth-serving organization that hires and trains paid, professional mentors called Friends, who support youth beginning at age 4-6 and continuing through high school graduation. Friends-Montana is launching with support from community leaders including Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS), Partnership Health Center, Western Montana Mental Health Center, Montana Child and Family Services, the Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana and others to address some of Montana's most pressing issues:
- Sixteen percent of Montana children live in families experiencing poverty and 27% have parents who lack secure employment, according to Montana Kids Count.
- Seventeen percent Montana children live in families experiencing food insecurity, up from 10% in 2018, according to Feeding America.
- Montana is ranked No. 2 in the nation for the highest rate of children in foster care at 16.8%, according to Child Trends.
- Child abuse and neglect cases in Montana rose by 130 percent between 2009 and 2015, an increase strongly connected to substance abuse.
You can learn more about Friends of the Children at www.friendsofthechildren.org.
Since 2014, BCBSMT has awarded more than $1.5 million through the HKHF initiative. In addition, BCBSMT contributes more than $500,000 each year to nonprofit organizations that support efforts throughout the state to improve the health of all Montanans. BCBSMT also presents the Governor’s Cup each June and supports the Caring Foundation of Montana’s Care Van program, which provides access to preventive health care services at low or no cost. The Governor’s Cup, which has been running strong since 1974, promotes the benefits of physical activity though running and walking, is host to more than 4,500 participants each year, whose race fees directly benefit the Caring Foundation of Montana.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) is a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSMT is the largest and longest-standing statewide, customer-owned health insurer and full-service health benefits administrator in Montana. BCBSMT has provided high-quality health insurance plans and administrative services to Montanans for more than 80 years and is committed to ensuring its members — no matter where they are on the health spectrum — achieve maximum health. Headquartered in Helena with five regional offices, BCBSMT’s purpose is to stand with its members in sickness and in health.