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Empowering Families through Family Tree Nurturing Center

April 2024

by johanna kennedy

In 1985, a small group of people gathered for the first time, wondering what they could do to prevent child abuse from happening in our community. Their concern birthed the Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, more affectionately known as the Family Tree Nurturing Center (FTNC), which opened its doors one year later. What began as a mentoring program with grandmothers mentoring young mothers has steadily blossomed into the multifaceted prevention program it is today. 

Bill Kennedy has been Family Tree Nurturing Center's Executive Director for two years. Providentially, Bill was one of the original committee members in 1985. His career took him all over the area in business and politics, only to land him back in his passion during his retirement. He looks right at home behind his desk with faint giggles of toddlers heard through his open door as he shares FTNC’s mission. “Our mission is for the prevention of child abuse and neglect. We carry out that mission by educating parents, working with kids to understand their own needs, and teaching everyone involved how to [create] a safe environment [for families and children to live in].”  

Bill and his team of nine full-time and four part-time staff fulfill the organization’s mission by offering numerous services to our community. They provide parenting programs that utilize the Nurturing Parenting Program at the Center and Montana Women’s Prison. Parent Advocates are also available for in-home visits for both encouragement and education, as well as postnatal mentoring to provide support for new moms and dads. They also now have a fully licensed child care center. Additionally, FTNC offers supervised visitation for families involved with Child and Family Services.  

FTNC staff have a robust slate of services they offer at Montana Women’s Prison. From Book Club to Journaling to Parenting Classes to Kid’s Day and Nutrition Classes, Family Tree’s Family Advocates are often present to assist women in whatever capacity they need to help them succeed as they move forward.  

The staff steadfastly work daily toward fulfilling their vision to “...strive to foster a community where all families have the support and resources they need to provide safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments.” This was evident on my tour with Bill through their facility. The children were light-hearted and engaging in each classroom we visited, as the staff lovingly attended to their needs. Everyone looked right at home as they sat around the table, eating lunch together. 

The Center also creates opportunities and events for the families to engage with one another. Their Childcare Center offered a Valentine's-themed Eat and Read night. Multiple families showed up to share a meal, then color and read together. Bill shared how special it was to watch the dads, visibly tired from their day at work, sit down with their children, open a book, and read to them. It may have been the first time many of them had that experience. 

Throughout the years, the FTNC has formed excellent connections within the community. Beginning with its popular Festival of Trees fundraiser, which provides most of the Center’s annual funding. Additionally, their reputation garners referrals to its programs from local judges, hospital staff, churches, social workers, and self-referrals. However, there is never an end to the need in our community. When I asked Bill what the needs of the population he serves are, he immediately admitted that the biggest is that parents have more needs to strengthen their families, and number one is affordable housing. $1,200/month is out of most of our families’ price range; children and transportation needs are great. “We work through parenting issues, give support, and try to address these other needs.”  

To learn more about the Family Tree Nurturing Center or to donate your time, energy, and/or resources to such a worthy organization, please contact Bill Kennedy at 406-252-9799 or email him at

Originally printed in the April 2024 issue of Simply Local Magazine

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