In 1971, the Montana Board of Crime Control offered the 4th Judicial District Court a grant to establish one of the first community-based group homes in Montana. The chief probation officer at that time empowered a group of local community members to incorporate the home, and in February of 1972, the group opened the District Youth Guidance Home.
Over the late 70s to 80s, we opened three more homes to meet the needs of the community. An “attention home” served the crisis needs of adolescent status offenders and runaways, while the other homes provided intensive services for youth. The homes shifted from live-in houseparents to rotating staff 24-hour “awake” supervision, and we changed our legal name to Missoula Youth Homes. We also added a foster care program to provide youngsters with family placements when appropriate.
In the 90s, the foster care program grew to 20 placements, with more than half of those youngsters under the age of 11. This demonstrated that there was a need for a group home geared toward younger children who required more care than a foster family could provide, so we established the Sherry Mahon Francetich Children’s Home in 1994. In 1995, we established an emergency shelter in Kalispell, which was the first home established outside Missoula County. We also added a boys’ treatment home and a second Francetich children’s treatment home.
In 2002, we opened the Bitterroot Attention Home (now the Linda Massa Youth Home) in Hamilton, and in 2005, we acquired the InnerRoads Wilderness Treatment Program. We merged with Friends to Youth in 2012 to offer family-based counseling as part of the Dan Fox Family Care Program.
From our humble beginnings of in 1971, we’ve grown to a five million dollar organization that serves 150 kids and families each day. We operate nine group homes in three Western Montana communities and have a strong foster care and adoption program and a wilderness treatment program. We are expanding our services to offer the same support for bio-families that we have provided to substitute families all along.
We do this work because we believe we share in the responsibility of raising children, and it is our integrated efforts that provide the chance for success many times over. We have, and can, change lives. We help these children feel stronger and have more faith in themselves and the adults around them.