The ANA Messenger: Social Development Edition 2013
Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Women’s Post-Treatment & Youth Prevention Project
The Grand Ronde Indian Reservation is located in western Oregon half-way between Salem and the coast. The Tribe is now in its final year of a two year SEDS project. The goal was to break the cycle of addiction and prevent initial drug use. The first objective was to complete and operate a women’s transition house. The second objective was to develop and provide new youth activities at the Tribe’s new Youth Activity space. Both objectives were tied to planned construction projects.
This SEDS project was created to help address drugs and alcohol issues in our community. Drug possession offenses had been far higher in our community compared to the rest of the county. Meth, marijuana and cocaine use all doubled between 2008 and 2009 and drug use and alcohol abuse also leads to other problems. There was a large increase in teen pregnancies including 13 Tribal members.
The Tribe sends Tribal members to drug and alcohol treatment facilities but there is a high recidivism rate and treatment is expensive. The Tribe has a small men’s post-treatment transition house (which was assisted by ANA in 2005) and it has been shown to help reduce recidivism. The Tribe didn’t have a women’s transition house. The year prior to this SEDS application there were 17 women that would have been referred to a Grand Ronde women’s transition house had we had one. Unlike the men’s facility this was not only important for the women but for their young dependent children.
In addition to the program statistics as a basis for need to develop a project, the Tribe also collected information from the membership on needs and priorities. In 2008 the Tribe performed a membership-wide survey (with a 33% response rate). Drug abuse was the highest public safety concern and creating a youth activity center was a high community need. It was frequently stated that there was too little for youth to do. In 2009 the Tribe created a 2010 Tribal Strategic Plan which included support for prevention and treatment. In 2010 the Tribal Housing Authority’s housing needs assessment, 33 member households reported that a family member needed drug/alcohol recovery housing.
From this background the Tribe included a women’s transition house in its 2011 Capital Improvement Plan and a recreation center. The recreation center proved far too expensive for this economy and was not pursued. The Tribe did apply for a 2010 HUD Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) for construction of a women’s transition house and (with HUD’s cooperation) the Tribe submitted a proposal to amend its prior ICDBG recreation center grant to instead build a youth activity addition to the Tribe’s small Youth Education Building. Both of these funding requests were formally approved a couple weeks prior to the ANA SEDS application deadline. The Tribe had already included in its SEDS application the renovation of a smaller house (on farmland the Tribe had purchased) into a women’s transition house and the Tribe amended the HUD project to be an addition to that house.
The Tribe also applied to the U.S. Department of Justice for a Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) grant for corrections alternatives funding for renovation, equipment and furnishings for women coming out of court ordered treatment or prison, and for their dependent children.
In addition to these applications the Tribe also applied for a Tribal Personal Responsibility Education Program (TPREP) grant to help reduce teen pregnancy. The Tribe already had an I.H.S. Meth Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) grant but it was planned to expire after that coming year.
The Tribe was successful with its SEDS, DOJ CTAS, and TPREP applications. These resources have all been brought to bear on the objectives for this SEDS project helping to develop these two facilities and their programs. I.H.S was also able to continue to extend MSPI funding. The Tribe then revised the MSPI grant to provide additional support for recreation / alternative activities in SEDS.
The Tribe’s Behavioral Health, Education and Social Services departments were the main service department involved in the development of the SEDS grant objectives. The Tribe’s administrative, planning, grants, and engineering staff coordinated the overall project development and facility development. Education Manager April Campbell and Behavioral Health Director Kelly Nelson (both Grand Ronde Tribal members) led the Youth Activity Addition and the Women’s Transition House program development efforts. The Grand Ronde Tribal Housing Authority has also been actively involved with both objectives including assisting with the SEDS youth mural project activity and the women’s transition house. Prior to the SEDS project they also assisted with the Youth Activity Addition.
The Youth Activity Addition was completed ahead of schedule and has operated through most of this two year grant project. The Women’s Transition House fell well behind schedule. In large part this was due to having to work with the local county on a conditional use permit. Assurances from the county that the clearance would be timely and fairly straight forward proved not to be the case. It eventually required fulfilling one public notice and hearing process and then being directed to start all over again and complete a second under a different category. The environmental clearance documents also look longer. As a result the building is being built with five bedrooms and three extra “storage” rooms which cannot be used for clients until the land goes into trust. Fee to Trust is expected to be approved by BIA in October.
The Youth Drug Prevention objective project created new youth programs with the added space. The new kitchen serves as a place to hold cooking classes and to prepare meals for events and for field trips. The computer room is used for homework and recreation and the crafts room is used for cultural activities such as carving. Projects included creating murals and field trips to colleges and technical schools. Cultural strength, personal responsibility, and drug and alcohol avoidance have been included in the larger group activities. More evening and weekend events were held due to the recreation assistant included in the SEDS grant.
The Tribe held its SEDS youth and TPREP progress meetings back-to-back on the same afternoon each month. Through the TPREP grant the Tribe was able to work with the local Willamina Public School District to create and hold personal responsibility pregnancy prevention classes.
Through the SEDS grant the Tribe was able to hire a women’s support counselor who has worked with Behavioral Health staff in the development of the policies and procedures for the new transition house (which includes children), as well as providing services to many of the same clients who would be referred to the Women’s Transition House in the future. Additional treatment was also made available through SEDS.
The Women’s Transition House or Women’s Transitional Living Center is now under construction. The renovation portion of the project and the furnishings acquisition will be completed before the end of the SEDS project on 9/29/13. Unfortunately the opening of the facility will not occur during the project period.
The Tribe has included support for recreation activities in the Tribe’s next MSPI funding year and the Tribe has applied for other federal funding to help support the start up of the transition house. The Tribe is also working with HUD and the Tribal Housing Authority for supplemental operation support for the transition house, as well as working on I.H.S. and health insurance payment for services in support of the transition house. The Tribe will work with the local food bank, the Tribe’s Social Services Department, and with the Tribe’s Head Start program for other assistance to eligible residents of the Grand Ronde Transitional Living Center. The center will primarily serve Tribal members, and occasionally family of members, and members of other tribes when reimbursable funding is accessible.
The expected results for the youth prevention objective was a 20 percent increase in youth involvement, involvement of a total of 80 at-risk youth in events and 25 in daily activities. A 15 percent reduction in youth drug use and a 15 percent reduction in teen pregnancy were expected outcomes. The Tribe expects to be able to report that these were all met.Due to the delay with construction of the transition house its operations will not be measurable during the project period. The men’s transition house from 2005 resulted in a change in recidivism from 75 percent to 50 percent. We also expect to see that much of a decline in recidivism with the women’s facility.
Native Hawaiian Nonprofit Provides Culturally-Adapted Relationship Education
Keiki O Ka ‘Āina Family Learning Centers (KOKA) is a Native Hawaiian nonprofit organization established in 1996. KOKA’s mission is to build strong communities by building strong families within the context of Hawaiian culture, values, and traditions.
The organization addresses issues among the Native population in Hawaii adversely affecting the development and well-being of Native Hawaiian children. KOKA recognized the need to create and implement a healthy relationship curriculum effective and culturally appropriate for Native Hawaiian families. The target population for the Ho’ohiki Pilina Project included married couples, single parents, pregnant teens in public high schools, at-risk middle school students, parents incarcerated in both the men’s and women’s correctional facilities, and youth in the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility. The purpose of this project was to provide Native Hawaiian families with access to effective and culturally competent marriage education and resources, resulting in healthy relationships and stable marriages for Native Hawaiians.
Project staff adapted the “Loving Couples, Loving Children” curriculum by incorporating Native Hawaiian values, and added components on financial literacy, parenting together for success, and military deployment and reunification. Eight facilitators received training to implement the curriculum, and provided workshops to 132 Native Hawaiian couples, over 100 incarcerated women, 20 Native teenage mothers and fathers at a local high school, multiple classes of high-risk youth in public middle and high schools, and 13 girls and 9 boys in the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility. Over five years, a total of 775 people, including 386 families, successfully completed curriculum sessions.
Facilitators reported seeing considerable positive changes in participants. Many couples stated the classes saved their marriages and families, and the training increased participants’ skills to maintain healthy relationships. The deployment and reunification component was greatly needed by military families as nothing like this had previously existed. Women transitioning out of prison also now have the skills to be reunified with their families; those who participated learned to value themselves and set boundaries. Furthermore, tools in the curriculum, such as preventing harmful fights, helped students more effectively interact with teachers and family members. Most importantly, children of couples who participated will now have positive relationship role models, and the Native Hawaiian community has embraced healthy relationship education based in their cultural values.
Partners in Development Foundation
Ka Pa’alana Homeless Family Education Program
Partners in Development Foundation’s (PIDF) Ka Pa‘alana Homeless Family Education Program (Ka Pa‘alana), now in the second year of a three-year SEDS grant, was created to meet the educational and family strengthening needs of homeless and at-risk Native Hawaiian families living on the Leeward Coast of O‘ahu. The overall goal of the project is to help break the cycle of poverty by creating and implementing Native Hawaiian family education curricula that prepare children for school success and empower the adult Native Hawaiian to be the head of the household and the family’s first and foremost influential educator.
In October 2009, the first of two Homeless Summits was held, with the intent of bringing ALL Leeward Coast non-profit and community organizations together to share resources, identify needs of the homeless community, and form a stronger voice in government decisions. This group, the Leeward Housing Coalition (LHC), meets once a month at Leeward Coast shelters and during annual Homeless Summits to strategize and coordinate efforts. The 105 participants who represented all of the public and non-profit agencies that serve the homeless Native Hawaiian community on the Leeward Coast identified lack of school readiness, lack of parent involvement in their children’s lives, and lack of available family services as “key issues” that needed to be addressed.
Recognized worldwide as the leader in family literacy development, NCFL works with educators and community builders to design and sustain programs that meet the most urgent educational needs of disadvantaged families. Adopted into federal legislation and providing the foundation for intergenerational learning that leads to long-term success, the NCFL model integrates four vital family literacy components—Early Childhood Education (ECE), Parent Education (PE), Adult Education (AE), and Parent and Child Together (PACT) time—into one integrated program.
NAEYC is the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children with the highest standard of accreditation for preschools in America. NAEYC's mission is to serve and act on behalf of the needs, rights and well-being of all young children with primary focus on the provision of educational and developmental services and resources.
Objective ONE: Over a period of 36 months, prepare 90 homeless Native Hawaiian preschool-age children for school success by developing, implementing, and evaluating a Native Hawaiian culture-based toddler and preschool curriculum that meets national standards.
At the time PIDF submitted the SEDS grant application, Ka Pa‘alana’s early childhood education curriculum met the Hawai‘i Preschool Content Standards (HPCS) and incorporated some Native Hawaiian content. However, through this grant project, Ka Pa‘alana made Native Hawaiian cultural practices and approaches foundational to the entire Ka Pa‘alana curriculum, while meeting the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards.
To accomplish Objective ONE, the project hired June “Pualani” Tandal, a Native Hawaiian Cultural Specialist and Preschool Teacher to create an early education curriculum called Kumu Kukui, based on Native Hawaiian culture and approaches. Jamie Goya, Curriculum Specialist, was also hired to assist in the development of the curriculum and to ensure the curriculum meets national standards (the domains outlined by the NAEYC). The curriculum has been implemented at the HOPE Shelter, where Ka Pa ‘alana currently runs a free four-hour-a-day, four-day-a-week parent/child participatory, center-based preschool for homeless children ages birth to five. In March 2013, Ka Pa‘alana’s preschool site at HOPE Shelter received NAEYC accreditation, making it one of only a few NAEYC-accredited preschools in the nation to serve homeless children.
Objective TWO: Over a period of 36 months, empower 30 homeless Native Hawaiian fathers in their role as the head of the household and their children’s first and foremost influential educator, by developing, implementing, and evaluating a Native Hawaiian Parent Education curriculum focused on the role of fathers.
To accomplish Objective TWO, a Native Hawaiian Father’s Curriculum titled Nā ‘Oiwi was created by parent educators who have extensive background in education and counseling and have worked with homeless families at the HOPE Shelter for the past five years. Danny Goya, Program Manager, and Terry Nakamura, Family Literacy Trainer, are also the only two NCFL certified trainers in the nation charged with working with homeless families. Seamus Fitzgerald, a Maori and Hawaiian cultural specialist, was contracted to assist in the creation of the curriculum and Lambert Panui, Father’s Educator, was hired to deliver the created curriculum.
The curriculum, which focuses on connecting homeless Native Hawaiian fathers to their culture and history and the role of the Native Hawaiian male in society, provides opportunities for these fathers to participate in cultural activities as well as PACT (Parent and Child Together) activities that encourage them to engage positively with their children.
Although there have been some challenges in hiring qualified personnel on time, and participant attendance, the project has already better prepared 119 Native Hawaiian children (birth to five) for school success through the implementation of Kumu Kukui early education curriculum, and empowered 23 Native Hawaiian fathers to assume their role as head of the household and their children’s first teacher through Nā ‘Oiwi. With the recent NAEYC accreditation of its preschool program, and ongoing professional and program development through NCFL, the project is hopeful that both curricula can serve as a vehicle for other at-risk native communities to meet their educational and family strengthening needs.
Getting to Know Us
Oneida Nation Hosts the 13th Annual National Tribal Child Support Association Training Conference
The theme of this year’s conference was “Ensuring Our Children’s Well-Being Through Financial & Emotional Support For the Next 7 Generations.” Over 260 people attended, including representatives from 51 of the Office of Child Support Enforcement’s 60 tribal grantees. The Oneida Nation Youth Singers opened the conference with some traditional prayers, songs and dancing. They were wonderful!
The workshops were interactive and informative. Conference materials will be available on the NTCSA website. Next year’s conference is scheduled for the Sheraton Gila River Indian Community Resort from June 8-12. Mark your calendars now!
Staff from the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance visit Indian Country
In June staff from the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) Division of Tribal TANF Management conducted site visits to Tanana Chiefs Conference, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Tribe of Alaska (CCTHITA) and Hoopa Valley Tribes. The purpose of the monitoring/site visits was to provide onsite guidance and program information related to the Tribal TANF Child Welfare (TT-CW) Coordination grants. The site visits were also an opportunity for the federal staff to see firsthand the work being done to preserve native families and to continue to build the relationship with tribal program staff. The statutory purpose of the TT-CW grants is to demonstrate models of effective coordination by tribal governments or tribal consortia of Tribal TANF and child welfare services provided to tribal families at-risk of child abuse or neglect. Consistent with the authorizing legislation, these grants must be used for one or more of the following:
The Office of Family Assistance staff met with tribal leadership, program staff and their partners to discuss the implementation of the TT-CW program and coordination efforts. Programs visited use the funding to meet the goals of the statute by providing a variety of services designed to meet the need of the individual community.
At Tanana Chief Conference, located in Fairbanks, Alaska federal visitors met with staff from the Athabascan Family Support Project. The Athabascan Family Support Project recruits and trains Parent and Foster Parent Navigators. Parent Navigators are hired to maintain weekly contact with parents whose children are in protective custody or at-risk of becoming under protective custody and assist them with obtaining supportive services and assistance focused on their TANF self-sufficiency plan, State or Tribal case plan objectives. Federal staff had the opportunity to meet Parent Navigators as well as parents working with Navigators to meet their child welfare case plan goals.
The project also provides supportive services and assistance to tribal children in out-of- home placements and for tribal families and adoptive parent (s) caring for such children through their recruitment effort to hire Foster Parent Navigators. Foster Parent Navigators are also trained to provide support and assist families with obtaining needed services to care for the children placed in their care.
Another example of the variance in which these grants are being used in Indian Country is the CCTHITA program. The CCTHITA program is a Child Welfare-TANF Collaborative Systems of Care Holistic Model that involves the implementation of a client assessment tool, standardization of program forms, developing policies and procedures and developing a joint case review process for program staff. The assessment tool is used to assist CCTHITA TANF workers in identifying families at highest risk of future involvement with the child protection agency. With the immediate identification the staff can begin to offer case management and prevention services to families living in the Juneau area.
Lastly, federal staff visited Hoopa Valley Indian Tribe, located in Hoopa, California. The Hoopa Valley Tribe uses their TT-CW funding to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children by strengthening the collaboration between the Hoopa Tribal Departments, Humboldt County Child Welfare Services, and other agencies serving Indian families. The TT-CW program informs families of services available to them and assists families to apply for needed services through the use of the Hupa Resource Center and Multidisciplinary Action Team (MDAT) created to help families most at-risk of having involvement with the child welfare system. Families can visit the Hupa Resource Center to receive food boxes and clothing and are provided with referrals to other social service agencies in the local area if their needs cannot be met at the Hupa Resource Center. Federal staff spent time interviewing Hoopa Valley Tribal TANF Staff, Hupa Resource Center staff, community partners and stakeholders that collaborate with the program to best meet the needs of those being served in the Hoopa community.
The OFA staff learned a lot about these three programs, the people doing the work and those benefiting from the services being provided. The staff felt was a great opportunity to again learn more about the programs and services being provided to families in Indian Country. As budgets permit, OFA staff looks forward to conducting visits to other TT-CW programs and continuing to build the partnership between federal program staff and tribal staff.
Book Review of
The New York Times Bestseller, The Roundhouse, a fictional story set in 1988 on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, is ANA’s current book club reading. The book captures a coming of age story, Native American tradition, suspense, and justice. The author offers readers a glimpse into a tribal justice system, while seeking to provide a deeper understanding of the legal obstacles Native American women encounter.
Joe, a young Ojibwe boy, is on a quest to unveil the person responsible for a brutal crime that brings emotional and physical pain to his mother.
“My mother was sunk in such heavy sleep that when I tried to throw myself down next to her, she struck me in the face. It was a forearm back blow and caught my jaw, stunning me.”
His determination to seek justice creates a compelling story of humor, inspiration, integrity and resiliency. The young boy narrates a story that takes him on a mission to understand and seek justice for a crime that later inspires him to pursue a career in law. The narrator sets a lighter tone for a heavy subject and readers will appreciate the humorous tone blended with Native American tradition set throughout the book.
The author transports readers back to 1988; previous and current cases involving tribal jurisdiction against non-Native perpetrators remains unclear and complicated. The complexity of tribal jurisdiction and the right to prosecute non-Native suspects on tribal land creates a story modern day readers can relate to.
In the afterword, the author provides statistics from the Amnesty International on the high number of sexual violence among Native American women, and quotes “the tangle of laws that hinder prosecution of rape cases on many reservations still exist” resulting into a “maze of injustice.”
“A 2009 report by Amnesty International including the following statistics: 1 in 3 Native women will be raped in her lifetime (and that figure is certainly higher as Native women often do not report rape); 86 percent of rapes and sexual assaults upon Native women are perpetrated by non-Native men; few are prosecuted.”
The passage below describes how a young boy observes his mother’s state of emotion dwindle into anguish, ultimately resulting into a state that affects the entire family.
“Her serene reserve was gone-a nervous horror welled across her face. The bruises had come out and her eyes were darkly rimmed like a raccoon’s. A sick green pulsed around her temples. Her jaw was indigo her eyebrows had always been so expressive of irony and love, but now were held tight by anguish…”
The book comes at a time relating to current issues, such as the newly passed law, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 2013, offering tribal communities the right to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators on tribal land. The Roundhouse allows readers to ponder on the complexity of tribal law and sexual violence in Native American communities. Overall, the author does a great job allowing the young boy to narrate and unfold a vivid tale of courage and strength.
Tyanne Benallie (Diné)
ANA wishes to congratulate Lori King, senior project consultant, and Amy Sagalkin, program specialist, for recently earning Project Management Professional (PMP) certifications from the Project Management Institute.ANA also congratulates Richard Glass, our training and technical assistance manager, for winning the award for Most Humorous Speech from the Department of Health & Human Services Toastmasters chapter in D.C. He will give his speech, which was on chickens crossing the road, in a regional competition in the near future.
Administration for Children and Families Honors Tribal Request to Form a Tribal Advisory Committee
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made history as the first Cabinet official to form a standing Tribal Advisory Committee, initiated in 2010. The input of Tribes into HHS policies and programs has proved to be mutually beneficial, and soon Tribes were looking to replicate this in HHS’s largest grant making division to Tribes, the Administration for Children and Families. The role of the ACF Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) will be to advise Acting Assistant Secretary George Sheldon on ACF Programs and Policies and how they relate to Tribes.
ACF sent a letter to all 566 Tribes requesting nominations for 10 Regional representatives and alternates from Tribal leadership, as well as four additional at large representatives that could represent National organizations. The overall purpose of the ACF TAC is to support and advise the Assistant Secretary, to bring discussion items from other meetings to TAC, such as Indian Child Welfare issues. The group will also figure out ways to communicate outside of TAC and to look closely at the ACF Tribal Consultation policy for updates and revisions if needed.
While in town July 8-10, the TAC met and reviewed the proposed charter and offered suggestions for changes. A revised copy will be sent out to all members asking for further input and/or concurrence on the changes made. The group also discussed the frequency of meetings how we can hold meetings without traveling to and from Washington, D.C. It was agreed that at least one meeting a year should be held outside of Washington and maybe at the same time as another meeting such as a National Indian Organization meeting. It was also agreed to hold meetings no less than every other month. A call with the group occurred August 28th and the group will be in town on September 16-17 and will also attend the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee meeting scheduled for September 17-18.
This new ACF-TAC will better inform ACF leadership and provide an avenue for ongoing dialogue on substantive issues impacting children and families in Tribal communities. The committee is an enhancement to the Tribal consultation process, but does not take the place of consultation.
Grantee Provides Media Access to Native Hawaiian Language
Aha Punana Leo is a nonprofit organization recognized as the founder of Punana Leo Hawaiian language immersion preschools, which were first established in 1984. The organization’s 25 years of dedication to revitalizing a living Hawaiian language have required ever-widening approaches to its work in the Native Hawaiian community.
Vertical development of Hawaiian language programming was identified as a strategy to re-establish a living Hawaiian language to eventually become the first language of the Native Hawaiian community.
It is undeniable that mass media, specifically television, shapes the thinking of people in modern society. Historically, indigenous peoples have lacked control of their stories on television. Despite technological advances in the broadcast industry that have the potential to level the playing, Hawaiians had yet to establish or solidify a position in the state’s television industry.
As a result of the project, 15 interns completed professional training, and 9 remain employed in the media. Additionally, over 300 minutes of daily newscast and news magazine stories were produced and broadcast in the Hawaiian language, as well as uploaded for recurring access on the Oiwi television web portal, a video-on-demand digital service, with nearly 9 million views and reaching about 50 percent of Hawaiian households.
Increasing Hawaiian language speaking fluency provided local television stations a pool of qualified talent to report stories from a Native Hawaiian perspective and met the Hawaiian speaking community need for language specific broadcasts. The project provided high quality Hawaiian language materials to 15,000 speakers, as well as to approximately 400,000 households seeking mainstream usage of the Hawaiian language and connections with the unique culture of Hawaii.
Hawaiians are now better positioned to preserve, protect, perpetuate, and incorporate traditional values and practices into other parts of mainstream society, ensuring a “Hawaii for Hawaiians” in perpetuity. Moreover, there is potential to take expertise development to the next level, through a partnership with University of Hawaii at Hilo to offer a certificate program in Hawaiian broadcasting.
National Native American Responsible Fatherhood Day
On June 15, 2013, Native American Fatherhood & Families Association (NAFFA) in cooperation with the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) reached out to Native communities across the country in celebrating the First Annual National Native American Responsible Fatherhood Day. We wanted a special day set aside to honor and celebrate the importance of fatherhood and the great contribution these fathers bring to strengthening their families. Fathers are the solution to challenges Native American communities face and are the greatest untapped resources. There is an immediate need to bring them back to their innate leadership role as fathers as established by their fore fathers. The family is at the heart of Native American cultures. There is no other work more important than fatherhood and motherhood.
NAFFA reached out to all the tribes by contacting each tribal leader and the Native communities involved in our Fatherhood Is Sacred program. This year 27 departments, communities and tribes participated in this historic event. Each group decided what would be best for their community and the events varied ranging from barbeques, family picnics, Fun Runs, golf tournaments, recognizing fathers within the communities and presenting them to the community. The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe Child and Family Services even attended a Seattle Mariners baseball game as a family outing.
By recognizing fathers and having an annual Native American Responsible Fatherhood Day we are hoping that each Native community will see how important fathers are and the value they bring to their families and community. Next year we hope to get the word out not only to tribal leaders, but to each department within the community. The 2nd National Native American Responsible Fatherhood Day will be June 14, 2014. We hope more tribes across the country will join us in recognizing and celebrating the importance of Fatherhood.
U.S. Social Security Listening Session
The U.S. Social Security Administration hosted its very first American Indian and Alaska Native “Listening Session” on July 29, 2013 at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC. Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security hosted the session to listen to the thoughts and concerns about Social Security‘s programs and services in tribal communities.
Speakers included Stephanie Birdwell, Office of Tribal Government Relations, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Keith Colston, Administrative Director, Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs and Social Security’s Nancy Berryhill, Deputy Commissioner for Operations and Bob Williams, Associate Commissioner, Office of Employment Support Programs. Participants attended both in person and via teleconference.
The agenda covered a variety of topics ranging from economic security for tribal communities throughout Indian Country to becoming a tribal employment network. The two main themes during the meeting were providing information to tribal communities about filing for benefits and tribal trusts for minors and their impact on SSI eligibility.
For information about Social Security programs for American Indians and Alaska Natives, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/aian.
Social Security has established a Tribal e-mail box, at SSA.Tribal.Communication@ssa.gov for tribal leaders to submit any issues and concerns affecting Indian country and Social Security.
Talking Stick: Hold Your Heads Up!
by Kenneth Akwuole
If you ask the majority of Americans what they did on the 4th of July, you will likely get responses ranging from watching an Independence Day parade or fireworks, to having family and friends over for a barbeque cookout. The least likely answer would be “working” except for people in emergency services or hospitality industries. But if you work for the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), you would more than likely find yourself with the later group. That is because ANA’s Objective Panel Grant Review for Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS) for the next fiscal year’s awards began in earnest on July 3rd with a five-day completion deadline.
ANA supports economic and social development projects in Native American communities with discretionary grants to Tribal governments and native nonprofit organizations. Specifically, ANA grants are used to support Tribal economic development, language and cultural preservation, environmental enhancement projects, improvement of governance structures and other types of projects that enable native communities make positive changes in the public standard of living. ANA grants are therefore, a significant source of Federal support for improving economic and social conditions in Native American communities.
Objective Panel Review (OPR) is an integral part of ANA’s funding process and affords participants the opportunity to ensure those in the field provide their insight and experience into the funding decision. Each year, ANA convenes panels of experts to objectively analyze and score eligible grant applications. These scores are used to rank applications which help ANA decide which eligible Tribes or native organizations will receive an award. In addition to the external reviewers, ANA staff serve as Sub-Area Managers (SAMs) and Priority-Area Managers (PAMs) during the panel review and grant award processes. Generally, SAMs and PAMs provide assistance to reviewers, facilitators and the Review Director throughout the different phases of a grant review.
Under normal circumstances, these groups of experts would assemble in one location, usually a hotel facility close to Washington, DC for the period of the review. However, this year’s review required a different approach. The recent budget across the board cuts enacted by Congress means government agencies must dig deep into many areas of their budgets to find savings.
People familiar with ANA’s grant review process know the ability to review applications, determine an appropriate score, and write clear and concise comments, requires specific knowledge and skills. The online review process this time made the system even more challenging because it is a new frontier. The tight schedule for the reviewers also meant that whether an individual served as a reviewer, facilitator, SAM, PAM or Review Director during the last SEDs paneling session, chances are that person was either providing last minute instructions to the panelists, arranging the first panel meeting or reading the first application while the neighbors watched the Independent Day parades or fireworks on the 4th of July.
Talking Stick: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
by Robert Parisian
“Elders and youth are the most important family members in Native communities,” says Robert Parisian. Robert and his wife raised their grandchild for about five years. Robert is an enrolled member of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe of Montana, currently living in North Dakota. Robert is the Training Specialist for the Administration for Native Americans Eastern Region Training and Technical Assistance Center. I recently spoke with Robert for some ideas on how to help grandparents raise their grandchildren.
Grandparents raising grandchildren is increasing across the United States and especially in Native communities. In 2000, about 6 percent of Native American and Alaska Native children were cared for by their grandparents compared to about 1.3 percent for White children. Grandparents raising grandchildren provides a stable environment for the grandchild and transfers cultural understanding and awareness. Grandparents also benefit by passing on their knowledge and culture and helping the child heal from past wounds. “By teaching the youth the cultural and community ways, grandparents can help end the cycle that causes the situation.” says Robert.
Many times grandparents end up raising grandchildren because of negative social conditions. The parent may be unable to financially support the child, or alcohol and drugs create an unsafe environment. Grandparents are often on fixed incomes, it is difficult to get child support from the parent to help raise the children, and there can be a lot of hoops for grandparents to navigate. When grandparents take on the responsibility of the child, Robert recommends grandparents keep two things in mind:
While there are many grandparents raising grandchildren, there are not a lot of local support networks. Often, grandparents are figuring out how to be parents again on their own. Robert recommends finding a way to create these support networks to help elders navigate the tribal or county social systems. Tribes and Native community governments need to understand the importance of raising grandchildren. “You need to strengthen the family before you can strengthen the reservation” says Robert. ANA believes Native communities can thrive only with a holistic approach to development. Economic development is important, but family is more important in maintaining culture and tradition. Robert elaborates: “a support system is necessary to ensure the survival of Native peoples continues.”
The Reference Guide for Native American Family Preservation Programs, published by the Administration for Native Americans, has a chapter on grandparents raising grandchildren and many resources on providing positive parenting skills. This reference guide may be helpful for those working with elders and grandparents.