Building Healthy Families

There is a famous proverb that reads, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Faith and community organizations are fundamental to building a child’s village, as they are one of the few places children receive multi-generational support. Many stressors can impact a family, including access to childcare, parenting questions, and access to food.

Faith and community organizations can implement low-cost strategies within their own communities to support the growth and development of healthy families. Below you will find resources and ideas you can implement to build the local village of support for families in your area.  

Becoming trauma-informed means understanding how adverse childhood experiences (ACES) can impact physical, emotional and social development.

  • Strengthening families is a fundamental role of faith and community organizations, and every parent and caregiver needs time to recharge. Hosting free childcare nights offers safe childcare for couples, providing the opportunity to have "date nights" which are critical to nurturing adult relationships.

  • Find the referral agency in your region to assist families with finding licensed and registered childcare for families of all income levels.

  • Temporary childcare assistance is available for certain health care workers as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Learn more about eligibility and requirements to participate in the program.

Faith and community organizations play a critical role with local groups working to build health families and safe communities. Local opportunities include:

Food insecurity impacts 1 in 5 Montana children. Faith and community organizations can connect families with local resources and programs.

  • Research studies demonstrate numerous benefits of eating together as a family, including positive impacts on child development, mental health, and the ability to pass along family values. Family mealtime also decreases the risk for substance use and other risky behaviors. Visit The Family Dinner Project website for a guide to implementing family meal nights in your faith or community organization.

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) provides benefits to eligible families to supplement their food budget and increase their ability to purchase healthy foods. SNAP Nutrition Education (SNAP-Ed), operated jointly with Montana State University, teaches participants to use their food stamp benefits wisely.

  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is Montana’s special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children. Please note: applicants must apply through their local clinic.

  • Cash assistance is funded by a federal block grant called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The program provides monthly payments to low-income families and children who meet income and resource eligibility standards. The Pathways Program provides employment and training services to individuals receiving cash assistance.

  • Find food pantries, meal programs, and other food assistance available through the Montana Food Bank Network.

  • Share your voice as an anti-hunger advocate! Montana Food Bank Network Anti-Hunger Action Center advocates for programs and policies that reduce hunger in Montana. 

  • No Kid Hungry collaborates with communities around healthy food solutions to curb hunger today, while also cultivating systemic change alongside community leaders to end hunger for the future. No Kid Hungry has a list of ways you and your organization can be involved in No Kid Hungry efforts in Montana.

  • The Human and Community Services Division determines Medicaid eligibility for more than 38 Medicaid programs for children, pregnant women, the elderly, the disabled, and other eligible adults. To apply for Medicaid, Healthy Montana Kids, health insurance assistance and tax credits through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, visit apply.mt.gov.

  • Use the Provider Directory to find a Montana Medicaid provider in your area.

  • Children’s Special Health Services works to help children and families in Montana receive the healthcare and supportive services they need to live happy, healthy lives in their communities.

  • Need to find health care coverage?  A network of enrollment assisters is here to help you find your options at covermt.org. Enter your zip code to be connected with an enrollment assister near you. Or, you can call (844) 682-6837 to be connected with someone locally who can help understand health insurance coverage options or benefits, or enroll you in coverage over the phone.

  • Faith communities have the perfect setup for hosting parenting classes, including space for childcare, a kitchen, and space for the classes. (Content coming soon on evidence based parenting models that can be implemented in a faith setting.)

  • Parenting Montana.org is a Montana-made parenting resource containing information and tools for children at every age to address a variety of challenges, including tools to help your child manage stress and develop routines in an ever-changing environment.

  • Montana Kinship Navigator Program connects relative caregivers to resources, services and research-based information, including support groups for relative caregivers.

    1. In-person support groups have been placed on hold during the pandemic, however, they have teamed up with Missoula Aging Services to offer an ONLINE support group via Zoom! For more info, call Kelly Moore at (406) 258-4206.

    2. Kinship Coffee Talk will meet the 2nd Saturday of the month from 9:30 – 10:30 am via Zoom. 

  • Montana Children’s Trust Fund awards annual grants to local communities implementing evidence-based strategies to support children and families. Click here for the grant information.

  • Healthy Montana Families provides home visiting for pregnant and newly parenting women and families/caregivers with infants and children under 5 years of age. Visit Healthy Montana Families to find a home visiting program near you. 

  • Many experts from child psychologists to internet safety leaders to even technology executives agree that it is best to wait until at least 14 before exposing children to smartphones. The Wait Until 8th pledge empowers parents to rally together to delay giving children a smartphone until at least 8th grade. By banding together, this will decrease the pressure felt by kids and parents alike over the kids having a smartphone. 

  • Arthritis is the most common chronic disease and is the leading cause of disability, and impacts those in your local congregations and communities. Montana's Arthritis Program has resources and tools to support those living with arthritis. 

  • One out of three Montanans over the age of 65 fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults. Montana's Fall Prevention Program has information and tools easily accessible for organizations interested in implementing fall prevention strategies.   

  • Over 30 million Americans live with diabetes. Improving Diabetes Care in Montana includes resources in accessing lifestyle coaches, referrals to care, and data by county. The Diabetes and Health Blog is a great resource to share lifestyle approaches to managing diabetes including tips on food and shopping, exercise, and lifestyle choices.

  • Are you at risk of developing diabetes? An estimated 54,000 Montanans have prediabetes. Take the risk test and discover strategies to lower your risk.

  • Visit Improving Cardiovascular Health in Montana for training and resources on lifestyle changes, health coaching and other resources to reduce the risk of heart attach and stroke.

  • DPHHS wants to gather stroke or cardiovascular prevention stories from across Montana. Faith and community members that know someone with a success story in their organization can share a brief written story by filling out an online form.

  • Learning how to self-manage a chronic disease can keep you healthy and improve your quality of life. This Community Programs Map can help you find health programs offered in your area to improve health and enhance quality of life.