National

South Dakota governor supports tribal child welfare efforts





South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) says he supports tribal management of child welfare and foster care programs.

The state receives about $56 million from the federal government for Indian child issues, according to Lakota People's Law Project. Tribes could obtain a share of that money if they run their own programs.

“Recently, several tribes have expressed interest in providing child welfare services, including foster care, to their members. They have indicated they may be contacting you to pursue this possibility," Daugaard said in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, according to a Lakota People's Law Project press release. I want you to know that I am fully in support of these efforts, and I ask you to favorably consider the requests of any South Dakota tribe to directly administer child-welfare or foster-care services to their members."

Indian children make up 13.8 percent of the state population yet they represent 56.3 percent of the foster care population, the Lakota People's Law Project said in a report. Of the 440 Indian children in foster care as of July 2011, 87 percent were placed in non-Indian homes while 39 Indian foster homes went empty, according to the group.

Some tribal families say they are unable to meet the state's rigid standards to provide foster care. Tribes will be able to develop their own criteria if they take over the program.

Get the Story:
Support grows for tribal control in child welfare (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 7/19)