Mary Pember: Law boosts tribal child welfare services
"Indian country should soon be seeing more tribally certified foster homes and adoptions. The need for such homes is great. In some states, there are two to three times as many American Indian and Alaskan Native children in foster care as other ethnic populations. Because many potential Indian foster or adoptive families may not meet stringent state foster or adoption program requirements, too often Indian children end up going to non-Indian families.

This may soon change. The clumsily named Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (CSIAA), quietly signed into law late last year, may give real strength and authority to tribal child welfare departments.

CSIAA allows eligible tribal programs to apply for direct funding from the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Act, the largest federal funding stream for entitled foster care and adoption assistance services for income eligible children. In 2006, states received $7 billion from Title IV. The U.S.. Congress, first passing these regulations on foster care in 1980, did not initially include access to Title IV-E funding for tribal governments.

Until now, tribes have received more limited federal money for child welfare services through the Indian Child Welfare Act and contract services with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. A few tribes have successfully negotiated agreements with individual states for some access to federally allocated money. Funding tribal child welfare services can best be described as a patch-work; officials must piece together budgets from several sources of funding, most of it discretionary and therefore unreliable."

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: New Law Will Boost Tribal Adoptions (The Daily Yonder 4/8)

Related Stories:
Mary Pember: NCAI helps tribes tap into stimulus (3/27)
Mary Pember: A family's journey through ICWA (3/23)
Pember: A roller coaster ride for Indian Country (3/13)
Pember: Tribes and Secretary Salazar share priorities (2/17)