Date: March 18 2022

Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936, (406) 461-3757
                Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391, (406) 461-8367

DPHHS Launches New Office to Engage Faith and Community Organizations

Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Adam Meier announced today the establishment of a new office to strengthen partnerships with faith and community organizations, which will expand the department’s ability to connect more Montanans to services and promote resilient families.

“We know that faith and community organizations play a fundamental role in supporting holistic health and wellness, as well as self-reliant individuals,” Meier said. “We aim to further partner with these organizations, including by providing information and resources about programs that serve all Montanans and better involving these organizations in the work that we do.”

The Office of Faith and Community Based Services was established as part of the Gianforte administration’s sweeping department reorganization and is headed by Tracy Moseman.

Moseman previously led health and safety initiatives at the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) in several positions, including her most recent role as Chief Program Officer. Prior to joining OPI in 2014, she spent 13 years at the community and school district level in student support services.

“With a passion for helping students and families, Tracy is committed to supporting Montana families and communities and brings a wide network of relationships, experience, and understanding of faith and community organizations to this position,” Meier said.

He also noted that the organizations are pivotal in promoting the wide variety of resources and initiatives offered by DPHHS, including supports for aging Montanans, suicide prevention, foster parent recruitment, substance use prevention and more.  

Moseman said the office will serve as a conduit between DPHHS and faith and community organizations across the state, creating a two-way flow of information, resources and programs to serve the identified health and wellness needs in each community.

“Through effective collaborations, it’s my overarching goal with the office to expand resources and strategies for effective prevention and intervention to improve health outcomes for all Montanans,” Moseman said.

Moseman noted that one in four individuals who seek help for mental health turn to faith leaders before they seek health from clinical professionals.

She said because faith and community organizations hold community trust, they naturally play a fundamental role in sharing local information. In fact, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration identifies eight components of wellness, with spirituality being one key component. Faith communities often provide supports to people in their communities to enhance emotional, financial, social, occupational, physical, intellectual, and environmental health. Examples include helping with housing, food, and clothing needs, as well as accessing mental health and substance abuse services and supporting survivors of trauma and violence.

Montana Catholic Conference Executive Director Matthew Brower said the faith community, in general, is often heavily involved in connecting people to services, especially in times of crisis. “In many instances, we are all serving the same individuals and without regard to religious affiliation,” Brower said. “In the end it’s all about helping people, building relationships and getting those in need connected to critical services. I look forward to growing this partnership and am excited about its potential.”

While the Faith and Community Based Services Office is new to Montana, the concept has long existed in other states with federal support and successful outcomes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Faith and Opportunity exists to support states in the integration of faith and community partnerships when addressing health and wellness at the community level.

In addition, faith communities can serve as important catalysts in strengthening healthy families.  Practical family lifestyle shifts such as eating dinner as a family, reducing screen time, and increasing family communication can be promoted and encouraged through faith and community organizations as no cost strategies to impact overall physical and mental health, reducing long term substance use and other risk behaviors in youth. 

At the new FCBS website, Montanans, faith and community organizations, and other stakeholders can receive updates, program information, and access to training and supports by subscribing to a monthly e-mail newsletter.