On April 1, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe will be the first Native American community in the nation to operate its own Title IV-E foster care, kinship guardianship assistance, and adoption assistance program. Passage of the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Fostering Connections) made it possible for tribal governments and consortia to apply to directly operate IV-E programs without receiving funding through state administration or agreements. Of the approximately 560 tribes in the United States, less than half even have an agreement with states to access IV-E funds. Therefore, the Indian Child Welfare Act continues to play an important role in navigating child welfare services for children and families in tribal communities.
George Sheldon, HHS Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families recently said, “The approval of this program marks an important milestone in furthering relationships between the federal government and Indian tribes in the operation of child welfare programs. I congratulate the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe on its achievement and I look forward to seeing additional Tribes operate their own welfare programs in the future.” Sheldon will attend Port Gamble S’Klallam’s signing ceremony and celebration on March 29th. CWLA joins the Secretary in our excitement and congratulations!
CWLA has been a strong supporter of tribal operation of IV-E and recently submitted comments to the administration in response to an interim final rule for ongoing implementation of this Fostering Connections provision. The comments highlight the particular considerations needed to ensure successful tribal IV-E programs in light of differing cultural and administrative characteristics in comparison to state and county governments.