The ANA Messenger: Social Development Edition 2013
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.