The November 2019 Child Support Report originally featured this article by Sunshine Parker, Human Services Director, Public Health and Human Services, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian
The Family Safety Program began in 2015 when we took over the administration of child welfare and adult protective services for all tribal trust lands from North Carolina. The tribal trust lands of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, what we call the Qualla Boundary, cover nearly 85 square miles over five counties on the western tip of the state.
The Family Safety Program’s mission is to have healthy, safe, intact Cherokee families. We achieve that by integrating behavioral health services with child welfare and bringing services to families. We knew that one of the struggles for the program would be reaching families who reside on trust lands that are as much as two hours away from the main program office.
By 2017, the Family Safety Program had served almost 2,400 individuals through child and adult protective services and 116 children through its foster care services. The program was having trouble getting parents and children to their appointments, court dates, and other services. Given these numbers and our struggle to provide the proactive services the program strives for, the Family Safety Program added staff members called case aides.
In late 2017 and early 2018, the Family Safety Program hired three case aides. They perform several tasks:
- Provide transportation both inside and outside the Qualla Boundary for children and families under the Family Safety Program
- Supervise parental and family visitation • Monitor visitation time and decide to terminate visits if necessary
- Make immediate oral visitation reports and follow up with written reports
- Provide routine clerical support to professional staff including filing and gathering documentation for client files
- Assist with data entry and monthly report completion
To date, the case aides have provided transportation support to over 300 clients, delivered dozens of food boxes, completed over 20 hospital visits, and helped file and update vital information to a new database system. The case aides have become a vital tool in the success of providing proactive services to families instead of referring the families to appointments they may not be able to attend.
Perhaps the program’s greatest accomplishment is that one case aide completed a bachelor’s degree in social work and moved into an investigator role in child protective services. The other two case aides are pursuing four year degrees so they can move into social work positions within the agency. Adding case aides has not only proven beneficial to the families we serve, but also to the program itself as the case aides can learn the ins and outs of the program, complete their degrees, and move up into frontline roles for the agency.
For information about our case aides program, contact Sunshine Parker at email@example.com.