ChildWise Institute receives $150,000 grant from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation

Helena, MT, February 25, 2013:  ChildWise Institute has a vision: “A society that is committed to the wellbeing of children.”  And thanks to a recent grant from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, they are a step closer to making communities safer and healthier for children.

Mike Halligan, Executive Director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, said, “It’s a distinct honor to support the ChildWise Institute in its effort to promote the well-being of children who struggle with many kinds of issues. Through this three-year grant, we strongly support their efforts to be the catalyst for urgent change in how we view children’s development, protection, and advancement in our communities.”

The ChildWise Institute is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit based in Helena, Montana, and established by Intermountain, a nationally accredited mental health provider for children.

 “We believe that all children have a fundamental right to live in safe families and communities, to be emotionally and physically healthy, and to receive the necessary support in order to achieve academic and life success,” explains Todd Garrison, Executive Director of ChildWise.  “And for the sake of our future, it is in all of our best interests that this be accomplished.”

According to Garrison, the focus of the ChildWise Institute is to elevate the wellbeing of children as a priority through three distinct focuses: advanced awareness, accelerated knowledge, and advocacy for positive change. 

“We are experiencing an epidemic of relational poverty,” said Garrison. “We better wake up because the consequences in each of our communities are sobering.”   

In the last twelve months, ChildWise has hosted major conferences to better equip parents, teachers, mental health professionals, judges, and law enforcement officers in the care and treatment of vulnerable children and families in crisis.  These conferences have been focused on child brain development, autism-spectrum disorders, and specific therapeutic interventions.  Just last year, ChildWise provided much-needed training to more than 1,000 parents, professionals, and community officials from all corners of Montana, and even from other states.

 The ChildWise Institute is also influencing change through its accredited online course through the University of Montana titled “Relational Development.”  The innovative instruction is an easy to understand guide for raising healthy children in today’s culture, and places an emphasis on caring for emotionally distressed children who have been exposed to trauma, grief or loss.   It incorporates significant discoveries in the fields of neuroscience, childhood trauma, grief and loss, child development, and family systems.

“The scientific research of recent years affirmed that much of what our grandparents and earlier generations did with respect to raising children was spot on,” said Garrison. “But as a culture, we have lost our way.  The ChildWise Institute exists to change that.” 

For more information on the ChildWise Institute, visit


The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is the major philanthropic organization for The Washington Companies and the Washington family. Funding for the Foundation comes from the profits of the Washington Companies and personal contributions for the Washington family. Since its inception, Foundation giving and the Washington family’s personal contributions and pledges to charitable causes total more than $135 million.

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