Opinion: Partner on Alaska Native child welfare
"As stakeholders, Alaska Native tribes don't need outside studies to recognize that the State Office of Children's Services is understaffed, under-funded and that change is needed to effectively work with families

Over 60 percent of the children in the state foster care system are Alaska Native/American Indian, drastically disproportionate considering we are only 19 percent of the population. OCS and tribal organizations have spent the last two years determining why this "disproportionality" exists and implementing a plan to address it.

Many of the factors are complex and controversial, including substance abuse, poverty, physical abuse, neglect as well as individual bias and institutional racism. Whatever the reasons, too many of our children are separated from their families, community and culture. Many are ultimately adopted by non-Native families and permanently removed from their cultural heritage.

A stronger partnership between the state and tribes will lead to improvements in the system benefiting all children, Native and non-Native. We have had courageous conversations, but more remains to be done, and as long as we all remain at the "table," it will be done."

Get the Story:
James LaBelle Jr: State and Natives need stronger partnership (The Anchorage Daily News 4/14)
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Relevant Links:
National Indian Child Welfare Association - http://www.nicwa.org

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