While the number of child abuse and neglect cases in Missoula continue to climb to record highs, the very programs that are designed to prevent these incidents are receiving cuts from the State of Montana.

Teresa Nygaard is the Executive Director of The Parenting Place in Missoula, she says the cuts are closing the doors of mental health providers and forcing more families to seek care from the Parenting Place.

"With the cuts that we just heard are going to happen, several organizations, Western Montana Mental Health is one of them, that will be experiencing cuts to the point that they will have to close their home-based programming," said Parenting Place Executive Director Teresa Nygaard. "We've been asked if we can fill that void and I don't believe that we will be able to fill the void necessarily ourselves."

Nygaard says she knows that around ten to fifteen families at least, will be in need of services by the end of April.

"At our current capacity, that would be way too much for us to take on as full time clients," Nygaard said. "[We're considering] whether or not we could serve them just initially in the respite program and then move them into a class setting... but, probably not all at once. Unfortunately, that's the hard part about cuts, if these programs end at the end of April, everybody is in need all at the same time."

Nygaard estimates The Parenting Place currently works with about 250 families in the Missoula area: up to around 800 individuals. The Parenting Place attempts to preempt child abuse and neglect by working with at-risk parents including those at pre-release centers, struggling with addiction, or mental illness. If new funding can't be found, Nygaard fears that "we're going to see a lot of people struggling even more than we have in the past."