Troubled kids, troubled system

A hard-hitting investigation into residential schools for at-risk children across the state of Montana. Judges commended the “depth of reporting” and “incredible commitment on the part of a small newsroom to revisit a persistent problem concerning the on-going, unrelenting abuse of children despite claims that it had been addressed years earlier." Originally published by the Missoulian between January and November 2019.



The Missoulian's reporting is based on interviews with past and present program students, administrators and workers; state licensing records; law enforcement reports; court records; legislative testimony, and interviews with experts in the field. Some students and family members requested anonymity; because of the sensitive nature of the information, those requests were granted.

Because two of Montana's 16 state-licensed programs — Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education, based in Idaho, and Sparrows Nest of Northwest Montana in Kalispell, a program for homeless children — differ significantly from the rest, the Missoulian did not include them in its examination.