Billings social work campus

WWU student therapists receive community awards for serving children and families

The free mental health clinic run by the Walla Walla University School of Social Work, Billings, Montana, campus, recently received two awards for their efforts to end child abuse and aid families impacted by incarceration.

The clinic, which is staffed by WWU master of social work students, has played a key role alongside the Family Tree Center (FTC) in the drive to prevent child abuse and neglect. The FTC, an extension of the National Exchange Club, shares building space with the WWU Billings clinic, and works with at risk youth and their families. The FTC works in conjunction with Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA), a nonprofit dedicated to preventing “the abuse and neglect of our nation’s children.” Adopting the pinwheel as their emblem, and using state chapters, such as Family Tree, to affect interventions and offer resources such as home visits and classes, the PCAA aims to educate parents and foster safe homes for America’s children. The clinic, according to Pamela Bing Perry, assistant professor of social work and program coordinator for the Billings Campus, plays an integral role in this process by providing counseling and therapy for FTC clients and their children. The FTC and the PCAA recognized the clinic's contributions this year with the Pinwheels for Prevention award.

The Billings clinic and its graduate student therapists also play key roles in the Voices of Incarceration Project (VIP), an organization which seeks to assist parents after their incarceration to restructure their lifestyle and successfully reenter the lives of their children. VIP is also operated by of the Family Tree Center, and understands the profound impact that incarceration has on the lives of those on both sides of the bars. VIP offers a series of eight group therapy sessions aimed at connecting newly released parents with their families and community. An award in recognition of the important contributions of the clinic staff to VIP was also recently presented to the Billings clinic.

The Billings clinic continues to grow in other ways, as well, and was recently awarded a second grant from the St. Vincent Mission fund, which brings the cumulative amount awarded to the clinic to over $200,000. “I am proud of the Billings Mental Health Clinic,” says Susan Smith, dean of the WWU school of social work and sociology, “ and grateful for the way that God continues to bless the work of the Billings team.” Bing Perry agrees, saying, “Truly, this continues to be a blessing from God.”

To learn more about the WWU School of Social Work and Sociology, visit

Representatives from the WWU Billings clinic pose with the engraved Voices of Incarceration plaque
Representatives from the Billings clinic like Pamela Bing Perry (third from left) play important roles in the Voices of Incarceration Project.
Representatives from the Billings clinic hold up the pinwheels for prevention award
Student clinicians at the Billings clinic, like David Lindsay (third from left), provide therapy to help families flourish.