SB 181, a bill to require notice of parental legal rights in child and family services cases, is scheduled for a hearing in the House Human Services Committee this Monday, March 20. (Please note that schedules and timing can always change).
The bill passed the Montana Senate on a 46—4 vote on January 31 and was transmitted to the House the following day. Introduced by Senator Dennis Lenz, the bill will provide numerous Constitutional due process protections to families when Montana Department of Child and Family Services investigators are conducting an investigation regarding abuse or neglect allegations.
SB 181 is based on our model bill, drafted by legal experts from across the political spectrum.
Many of you called your senators to support this bill, and we thank you for your role in bringing it this far. We are also grateful to the Montana Child Protection Alliance for their hard work on this bill and other similar legislation to protect families.
Now, we ask you to please call or email your Montana State Representative RIGHT NOW using this Find My Legislator tool.
Your message can be as simple as the following:
I urge you to support SB 181, which will add several due process protections into Montana law to protect the rights of innocent parents and caregivers when faced with a Child and Family Services investigation regarding alleged abuse or neglect, including notifying the family of their legal and constitutional rights during an investigation. These protections are required by the US and Montana Constitutions, and will serve to protect innocent families, while still allowing Child and Family Services investigators and law enforcement to protect children who are truly at risk of abuse or neglect.
If you decide to send an email to your state legislator, you can include a link to an amicus curiae (“friend of the Court”) brief we submitted in a federal lawsuit several years ago that documents the harm that innocent families and children face when going through a child abuse or neglect investigation. SB 181 will provide needed protections in these types of investigations in order to protect innocent families. You can read our brief here: https://parentalrightsfoundation.org/doe-v-woodard/
Then, please forward this email to two or three friends, and ask them to also contact their Montana State Representative. Together, we CAN bring reform to the child welfare system in Montana.