In 1985 the call to prevent child abuse and neglect was answered by a number of community volunteers who strongly believed that child abuse and neglect robs children of their childhoods and sometimes of their lives. Today, the Center is staffed by professionals and community volunteers, who each and every day answer the call to be a support to our community’s families.
In 1989 The Family Tree Center introduced two direct service programs to the Billings’ community. One, Community Caring, provided volunteer parent mentors to new or expectant parents. The program was named the 869th Point of Light by then president George Bush. The other program, Second Step, was piloted in Billings’ schools to provide children the opportunity to learn to solve their problems without violence. Developed by the Committee for Children in Seattle, Washington, Second Step was a well researched curriculum that teaches children skills in the areas of empathy, impulse control and problems solving, and anger management.
In 1991 the Center expanded its work to include staff based home visiting programs as well as support groups for parents who needed the opportunity to talk about their parenting successes – and failures – with other parents. During 1991 the Respite Child Care Program, designed to give parents a “break”, was added to the direct service programs operated by the center. Respite care quickly became a favorite, as parents were able to leave their children in a developmentally appropriate environment, while they rested, shopped for groceries, or attended classes.
The past years have seen The Family Tree through a number of “firsts”. We were the first organization (other than public health nurses) to offer ongoing home visiting opportunities to families requesting additional support; we were the first to address violence prevention activities with our children and youth, and we were the first organization to offer respite care for parents of young children. Additionally, we were the first place the Nurturing Parenting classes were made available to parents, and the first – and only organization in Yellowstone County whose sole mission is the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Throughout the years, The Family Tree Center has continued to offer quality services to Yellowstone County families and those in the surrounding area. From the first eleven parents served in 1985, the Center has grown to serve an increasing number of children and families each year.
Incorporated as the Montana Chapter of the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse in 1985, today The Family Tree Center is the Billings Exchange Club’s Child Abuse Prevention Center and plays a statewide role in prevention efforts as the co-leader of Prevent Child Abuse Montana.
Mission & Values
The Family Tree Center is committed to the prevention of all types of child abuse and neglect in Yellowstone County and the surrounding area.
To support, strengthen and educate children and families in ways that enhance their growth and well-being: to stop the hurt before it happens.
-We believe that every child deserves the best possible start in life.
-We believe in addressing problems early on before they require costly intervention.
-We believe that every family needs support, and that support is most effective early on in a child’s life.
-We believe that violence need to be addressed at every level of society.