Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Native American Children & Foster Care

NPR is doing a three-part series on American Indian children in foster care in.  From Part I, broadcast yesterday:
The Indian Child Welfare Act mandates that, except in the rarest circumstances, Indian children must be placed with relatives, a tribal member or at the very least, another Native American. It also says the state must make every effort to first keep a family together with services and programs.

The law was passed in 1978 in response to a century-long practice of forcing Native American children into harsh and often abusive boarding schools where they lost contact with their culture, traditions, language and families.

Except now a generation of children is once again losing its connection to its culture. This time it's through state-run foster care.

In South Dakota, Native American children make up only 15 percent of the child population, yet they make up more than half the children in foster care. An NPR News investigation has found that the state is removing 700 native children every year, sometimes in questionable circumstances. According to a review of state records, it is also largely failing to place native children with their relatives or tribes.

According to state records, almost 90 percent of the kids in family foster care are in non-native homes or group care.

State officials say they're doing everything they can to keep native families together. Poverty, crime and alcoholism are all real problems on South Dakota's reservations and in the state's poorest areas. But, state records show there's another powerful force at work — money. The federal government sends the state thousands of dollars for every child it takes.
Click for Part II. (I'll add the link for Part III when available.)


Anonymous said...

It's disgusting that in "South Dakota Native Americans make up 15% of the population but half of the children in foster care". I think the Native American people need to examine WHY this is happening, and take care of it on that level, then there would be less need to talk about it on on the foster care level.

Also, that last statement that the feds give lots of $ to states for removing the children.....does this statement refer to putting the child into foster care? Isn't it true that family-foster care parents get paid for fostering just as a non-family-foster care parent would??
I believe that is the case. So, it seems the only ones benefiting from this set up would not be the state, which gives the money directly to the family for fostering the children, but instead it would be the family who fosters the relative child. Perhaps if family did not get paid to foster children, parents would sober up, and family wouldn't step in so readily.

Anonymous said...

OK I just read part 11, and according to that, the states are fostering outside of the family, and bypassing family foster all together. So, then the question becomes, why doesn't the family or tribe step up before the children are sent to Childrens' Home? Children don't jus vanish from the reservation, I seriously doubt the majority of Native American children that are NOT in relative/tribal foster care, are in other places because the relatives turned a blind eye..I know that's not what the report is insinuating, but I truly wonder if that is true. Where is the accountability?

Mahmee said...

Just recently, I've been doing a lot of research on foster children (since we are considering adopting our 2nd child from this program). It does appear that in our area (the NW) native american children aren't always fostered in a native american home. However, the family that adopts these children must be part of a particular native american exception, from what I can find in my research. Becoming a foster parent requires getting certified. From what I understand, even family members must be certified foster parents to take in children. It's free and just takes a few weeks to accomplish. If South Dakota's foster program contains over 50% native american children, I would imagine that there just aren't enough native american placement homes available. Therefore, the state wouldn't have a choice but to place them with non native americans.
It sounds to me that there is some disconnect between removing the children from their home and placing them into non native american foster care. Where are the family members that say they want to take their own relatives in? Were they not informed of the removal? Did they choose not to get certified? Still a lot of questions. Maybe Part III will answer them.

Anonymous said...

I have personal experience with Native American foster care. Our son is Native American. He was in a Native American foster home. His social worker tried to find a home with relatives. It is unusual for the kids in his tribe to be adopted if a relative won't take them. Our son was considered to have too many problems. Our son't tribe certainly doesn't do everything right. However, not all tribes are as advertised in that piece. They really downplayed the place that alcohol plays in this. Almost all of these kids have Fetal Alcohol in some form. It is terribly sad, but if you worked with the kids on the reservation, you wouldn't be surprised at all.

Anonymous said...

This is such a sad thing...tearing apart loving families for money. It sickens me to think that people actually do this.

Read my article on the topic here:

wakinyan agli said...

I think before non Native American people post comments and are so quick to judge with alcohol problems don’t forget that there are a lot of whites with FAS issues as well. You should stop to think what got us in this sad situation. Might I add that if we are all judging and down grading people as a whole here that it is the white community that the average kid nappers and child killers are of Caucasian race in their mid to late 30s and married with children. So who exactly is it that hurts children the most?? Native’s kids are mainly taken out of the home because their families can’t provide for them. Had the white race not set us up for such failure by placing us on worthless land, taken (killed) all of our main supply of food and kept us in the dark with higher education and a possibility to survive in your white world until now we may have prospered years ago. Instead they forced natives onto small sections of our country and fed us alcohol like it was candy something in which we had never in thousands of years ever been subjected to. What blasphemy to look down on us! (Its only 150 years or so since we were shoved to the ground slaughtered killed and raped, give our people some time to change) AND LEAVE OTHER RACES ALONE worry about your own issues cause we all know you have plenty to go around

wakinyan agli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wakinyan agli said...

Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men,
we didn't have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents.
Without a prison, there can be no delinquents.
We had no locks nor keys and therefore among us there were no thieves.
When someone was so poor that he couldn't afford a horse, a tent or a blanket,
he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift.
We were too uncivilized to give great importance to private property.
We didn't know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being
was not determined by his wealth.
We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians,
therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another.
We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don't know
how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things
that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.