Char-Koosta News

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CSKT Council approves child welfare initiative agreement

By Lailani Upham

(L to R) William C. Bell, PhD., President and CEO Casey Family Family; Kaetie Brown, MSW, CPS/Foster Care Program Manager; Bob Watt, Chairman of Board of Trustees Casey Family; Constance Morigeau, MSW/ACSW, TSS Department Head; Fred Fisher, Director, Indian Child Welfare Programs for the Casey Family Programs; and Carole Ahenakew, MSW Licensor for TSS. (Courtesy photo) (L to R) William C. Bell, PhD., President and CEO Casey Family Family; Kaetie Brown, MSW, CPS/Foster Care Program Manager; Bob Watt, Chairman of Board of Trustees Casey Family; Constance Morigeau, MSW/ACSW, TSS Department Head; Fred Fisher, Director, Indian Child Welfare Programs for the Casey Family Programs; and Carole Ahenakew, MSW Licensor for TSS. (Courtesy photo)

PABLO — The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe’s Social Services Department and the Casey Family Programs of Washington state have locked in an agreement to reform the safe reduction of children in out-of-home care and of non-ICWA preferred placements, and to create safe, strong and caring communities that nurture the education, health and hope of every child.

The agreement and CSKT Tribal Resolution No. 14-212 was signed Thursday, August 21 with a vote of 9 for, 0 opposed.

The Child Welfare Initiative agreement says the parties will work to identify, implement and assess practices that meet their goals that includes an in-depth outline strategy plan.

Although the two entities will be working jointly, CSKT will hold responsibility of the decision making in respect to any youth who are within their care, custody, or control. The Casey Family and their contractors will make recommendations only.

Leadership will be led and identified by CSKT to work with CFP to implement and evaluate the CWI.

Included in the outline of the CWI agreement is historical context of the successes of child-rearing traditions; the breakdown of family through European contact; how populations of Native peoples were decimated through disease, seizure of tribal lands, assimilation campaigns and the boarding school systems; and the outcome of trauma, socio-economic distress and the erosion of tribal sovereignty.

In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act after finally recognizing the harm done by decades of federal policy aimed at destroying Indian culture and families and tribes.

In recent years, tribes have taken the lead in developing sustainable and culturally appropriate child welfare solutions to support the safety and success of families.

CSKT Chairman Ron Trahan receives a coastal drum to the tribes from the Casey Family Programs during the signing of the agreement last Thursday. (Courtesy photo) CSKT Chairman Ron Trahan receives a coastal drum to the tribes from the Casey Family Programs during the signing of the agreement last Thursday. (Courtesy photo)

The CFP believes the ICWA is a key standard for state and county child welfare practices. Their organizational goals include increasing ICWA compliance and tribal access to child welfare resources by influencing federal, jurisdictional, and judicial policy and practice change that fully sees the right and authority of elected tribal leaders to administer and make decisions for Indian children.

CFP supports tribal communities in developing child welfare policies and resources that best meet the needs of the children and their families they serve; thus - the recent agreement.

Some of the shared learning opportunities that fall on the CSKT responsibility is to invite CFP to participate in joint learning sessions, and other meetings held or sponsored by CSKT to inform strategies that support areas of mutual interest.

Four tactics in the Strategy Plan are: Comprehensive culturally responsive tribal child welfare program development; child welfare financing consultation and technical assistance; data analysis; and intergovernmental relationships.

The first strategy is to provide CKST Tribal Social Services with consultation, technical assistance and training to develop a system that is grounded in Salish and Kootenai traditions and values. It will also include preventions, intervention and aftercare.

However, certain guidelines exist for each approach.

The second strategy for financing and technical is to support TSS in accessing and maximizing child welfare financing resources that lead to heightened tribal capacity to deliver services to at risk children and families.

According to the plan, the data analysis portion will work with TSS to establish baseline data, ongoing data collection, reporting and analysis necessary to identify trends, needs, opportunities, and improvements in the tribes’ service array to children and families.

Intergovernmental relationships recognize that CSKT tribal leaders and staff have authority to administer and make decisions on behalf of CSKT children in the program.

Bi-annual reports will be prepared from CSKT to CFP and vice versa from the date of agreement to October 30, 2015.

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