Candidate Statement

Shawn Byrne

Billings, Montana


During your 2+ years of membership in SVN, describe how you have utilized your member benefits. (Networking, training, credential, etc.)

As the Executive Director of Family Support Network, I obtained a Program Management Certificate in November of 2017. In 2019, I also arranged for Joe Nullet to come to Billings Montana to train our entire staff in a 3 day Nurturing Parenting Facilitator course with a Special focus on Nurturing Parenting Skills for Families in Supervised Visitation Curriculum. During the start of the COVID 19 pandemic Family Support Network also reached out to Joe Nullet for discussion and guidance on how to move forward on a electronic platform for Supervised Visitation. With his input and access to the SVN policies/procedures we managed to move to a ZOOM platform in about 10 days. We have also sought other input from SVN for technical assistance regarding Supervised Visitation. We have aided other SVN member programs when asked by either the SVN E.D. or the program directly. We find our SVN membership very valuable in our efforts to provide quality programming and leadership in the state of Montana in regards to our child welfare system.

Describe your experience in the field of supervised visitation or relevant experience that intersects with the field of supervised visitation.

I have a Masters in Clinical Social Work with an emphasis on child welfare and systems of care. My academic training is most beneficial in leading and supporting our staff and other agencies as we work in Montana's child welfare system. Also, I have over 35 years of experience in the field of child and family mental health/human services both direct and administrative. My experience in the field centers on outpatient programs like home visitation services, case management, therapeutic foster care and school based services. I have over 5 years of experience in the field of supervised visitation. For the past several years I have been selected by the states Child Protective Services Department to testify at the Federal Review of the states child protective services. I also am on the oversight committee for our local Treatment Court (District Court).  

SVN’s vision statement is: “The Supervised Visitation Network champions a world in which all vulnerable families have access to safe and quality visitation services.” Discuss your commitment to better outcomes for families in consideration of racial, cultural, socio-economic, gender equity and ability/disability.

My commitment to better outcomes for all children and families is without peer. This is evidenced by the following: Each week the staff of Family Support Network discuss matters of race, culture and diversity. It is a vital on-going agenda item for our staff meetings as we believe it aids in our overall success with children and families. Barriers and challenges are meaningfully discussed positive outcomes are acknowledged/celebrated. Being in the largest community in a rural state (Montana) we experience a significant amount of diversity with the children and families we serve. We are close in proximity to the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations, have a sizable Hispanic population, over 75% of our clients qualify for public assistance, we serve rural Montana, plus we have a small program to address food insecurity. Our only exclusionary criteria is safety. If we do not feel it is safe to serve we will deny the application. Violent crime statistics have exploded in our county. Meth/Heroin has not been discriminatory and has affected all walks of life.

What do you envision as the primary function of the position you are seeking and what skills, talent and experiences do you have that would most benefit SVN (and ultimately the membership) if elected to the position?

I would envision the primary function of a SVN Board member would be to provide broad oversight regarding the operations of the Network and to be a sounding board to the SVN Leadership on current matters facing its membership. I believe my human service experience coupled with my critical thinking skills would be an added value to SVN. I also believe my broad experience in working with state systems would be an added benefit in possibly aiding in the expansion of SVN into other states.

Regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion, what strategy(s) would you utilize to effectively engage in dialogue with the membership?

Education and Training - even in Montana there are subject matter experts who love to spend time educating and training on diversity, equity and inclusion. Also - focusing on written policy as a guide would assist in engaging the membership. Plus looking at the ethics of social work, focusing on meeting people where they are at in there lives and walking along side of them so they can have safe and quality visitation time with their children.

In what local, national, state, or provincial organizations (coalitions, groups, or task forces) outside of SVN or your current employer are you involved that would enhance the Networks goals?

Family Support Network is a member of the Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana. Who's vision is - Ensuring that quality Community-based services are available and accessible to people, families, and communities in need. Who's mission is - To achieve the vision with effective advocacy and support of service providers.