By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA - Republican Rep. Frank Garner of Kalispell says he wants to set high standards for the foster care system in Montana.

“Those high standards are like being able to feel safe, being able to be healthy, being able to have an education," Garner said Wednesday.

Garner is sponsoring House Bill 182 at the 2017 Legislature. It would set a statewide policy that foster children can expect, among other things, to be free from abuse, have access to proper health services and have access to cultural or religious activities of their choice.

The standards for foster parents set by the bill include being treated with respect, being free from discrimination and being notified of changes affecting a child’s placement.

“What we’re doing is saying here is what we think are the important outcomes for foster children," Garner said. "And I think as the state of Montana, it’s important for us to say here’s the value that we place on them.”

The hearing for HB 182 is Thursday morning at the House State Administration committee.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.