The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has added new resources to its Parentingmontana.org website.

KGVO News spoke with State DPHHS Director Adam Meier on Thursday, who introduced the newly improved website.

“What we wanted to do with this website was to put together a toolkit of various resources on how to really establish those relationships, how to cultivate those relationships, and how to have difficult conversations about complex topics,” said Director Meier. “Research shows that mental, emotional and behavioral development of children directly impacts their academic and health related outcomes both in childhood and adulthood. What this website does is helps those in a parenting role build those social and emotional skills that children need to bolster their mental, emotional and behavioral health.”

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Meier further described the merits of the improved website.

“When you have to think about having a difficult conversation with your child about drug use or substance abuse or bullying, there are approaches that have been tested and proven to be most effective,” he said. “That's what we try to do with these resources.  We try to put parents in a position to be able to have conversations in a way that are informed by data and by evidence and takes into account how children may receive that information, so that's really what this website does.”

Meier said there are audio visual tools within the website that parents can utilize for better communication with their children.

“We have, for example, new podcasts,” he said. “The podcasts bring in parenting experts to have conversations so that they can hear how those messages can be delivered. We have new materials and we partner with experts all around the country but in particular with the Center for Health and Safety Culture at Montana State University, and they help us develop these materials for the website, so there is tons and tons of content for just about any situation you would encounter.”

Meier said the information on the website will also be helpful to other agencies in each community.

“For those people who are mentors in the community, these resources are valuable to them. So if you're a coach of a local Little League team or if you're a school resource officer, you don't have to be a parent to go to this website and learn something,” he said. “So if you're in a position where you're mentoring, or you're coaching, or you're in a parenting role, or you’re a grandparent, then there's something here for you to learn about how to interact with children in a way that's backed up by evidence in a way that's meaningful.”

Meir said there’s also an online coordinator toolkit for engaging teachers, healthcare providers, law enforcement and other community leaders.

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