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No one disagrees that child abuse and neglect is inexcusable and some children need to be rescued. But let's stop hiding behind those cases and talk about the children in foster care who should not be there — children who are victims of a broken bureaucracy of overreach.

Montana has no excuse for being the only state whose foster care numbers doubled in the past 10 years nor for removing three times more children than the national average. It's happening because laws are being broken and children's rights are being violated.

Try being the parent who is jumping through hoops to get their child back, only to be tormented with unreasonable demands, or a grandparent who lost contact with their grandchild because CFS misused their power and ignored law, or the child who begs his mommy to take him back home.

Don't be fooled into thinking that only children of drug addicts or incarcerated parents are in foster care. Children are there because of poverty, false allegations, or social workers making judgments without adequate training. Legislation was presented to address these issues, but CFS opposed it and politicians ignored the people.

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It's time to stop treating our children as statistics in the opinion section or as pictures advertised in brochures. It's time to put better childhood outcomes ahead of politics. Ahead of a bureaucracy that doesn't want to be held accountable. Our children and families who are stuck inside this broken system are begging to be heard. Be their voice!

Denise Johnson

Billings

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