FORT TOTTEN, N.D., July 10, 2014
This week 26 key decision-makers
from the Spirit Lake Tribe, federal and state governments, as well as
local and national private organizations met to kick off a comprehensive
strategy called the "Spirit Lake Child Welfare Improvement Project."
The purpose of this gathering was to convene decision-makers to craft a
vision and an initial plan for the improvement of the child welfare
system at Spirit Lake.
matter what culture, race, or background we come from, children are
sacred," said Spirit Lake Chairman Leander "Russ" McDonald as he opened
the convening. "This meeting is critical to bringing together assessment
information and available resources to build a strong foundation for
addressing child safety."
included leadership from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (US Department of
Interior), Administration for Children and Families (US Department of
Health and Human Services), the state of North Dakota, representatives from elected officials in North Dakota,
Casey Family Programs, and the Center for Native American Youth. All
are committed to working collaboratively to improve the lives of Native
am very excited about this group coming together to develop an action
plan to address needs within the Spirit Lake Tribe's child protection
services, tribal social services, law enforcement, and judicial
services," said Spirit Lake Chairman Leander "Russ" McDonald.
a result of the leadership meeting, a plan and timeline was created and
implementation teams with representatives from across the participating
agencies and organizations. The efforts will include: technical
assistance, community engagement, leadership engagement, coordination of
emergency services, strategic mapping and planning, and assessments of
child welfare, law enforcement, and social services.
fact that we had all of these stakeholders here together with the same
mission and focused on moving forward for the benefit of the children of
Spirit Lake is a positive move toward building a more collaborative,
meaningful partnership," said Michael Black, leader of the Bureau of Indian Affairs who attended the meeting. "As the director of the BIA, I am proud to be a part of it."
meeting will not solve all the issues, so additional sessions over the
next several months will refine the vision, add detail," remarked Anita Fineday,
managing director of Casey Family Programs' Indian Child Welfare
Program. Casey Family Programs provided the support to hold the
leadership meeting as well as two-days of training with those involved
in the hands-on child welfare work at Spirit Lake.
are proud to be a part of this collaboration and effort drive new
resources to address the needs of the children at Spirit Lake," said Erin Bailey, executive director of the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute. "Former US Senator Byron Dorgan who created our organization has long worked with the Spirit Lake Tribe."
Spirit Lake Dakota Nation is a federally recognized Indian tribe in North Dakota.
The tribe's reservation was established by Treaty between the United
States Government and the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Bands in 1867. The
Reservation is located in East Central North Dakota. According to the
Spirit Lake Tribe Enrollment office there are approximately 7,200 tribal
Casey Family Programs
is the nation's largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope
for children and families across America. Founded in 1966, Casey Family Programs works in 50 states, the District of Columbia
and Puerto Rico
to influence long-lasting improvements to the safety and success of
children, families and the communities where they live, including in
Indian Country.. For additional information, please call (206) 282-7300
or visit www.casey.org
Center for Native American Youth
is dedicated to improving the health, safety and overall well-being of
Native American youth through communication, policy development and
advocacy. Founded by former US Senator Byron Dorgan
in February 2011
, the Center is a policy program within the Aspen Institute, headquartered in Washington, DC
The Center works to strengthen and create new connections as well as
exchange resources and best practices that address the challenges facing
Native youth. Visit the Center's website for a comprehensive list of
resources available to young Native Americans, tribes and the general
public. For more information, visit www.cnay.org
SOURCE Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute
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