Tribe makes changes to children’s codeSaginaw Chippewa Tribal members are celebrating a change in one of its codes to help ensure that children stay with blood relatives.
Tribal Spokesman Frank Cloutier said Friday that changes to the “Title II Children’s Code,” made by the Indian Child Welfare Committee, are more in line with the Tribe’s traditional culture and values.
Calling the changes progressive steps so Tribal families won’t have to rely on traditional Western culture, Cloutier said the Tribal Council hopes the changes will be the model that other Native American communities use as a template for causing positive change in their communities and memberships.
In general, Cloutier said, Native communities have never had opportunities for children to stay with extended families rather than foster care in circumstances where children are removed from their parent’s homes.
Changes to the children’s code include issues regarding adoption, child abuse, detention shelter care facilities, foster care and child care licensing.
Passed by Congress in 1978, the “Indian Child Welfare Act” was created to remedy the problem of a disproportionately large number of Native children being placed out of their homes.
Cloutier said that typically amounted to foster homes without regard to the child’s extended family.
Indian Child Welfare Committee Chair Faith Pego-Carmona said the law recognized “that there is no resource...more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children.”
Non-Native agencies had failed “to recognize the essential tribal relations of Indian people and the culture and social standards prevailing in Indian communities and families,” Pego-Carmona said, adding that the Indian Child Welfare Committee recognizes the importance of the federal act.
Cloutier said the changes are wonderful for Tribal members and that they solidify Native family values.
[We need more codes like this across Indian Country...Trace]