INDIAN CHILD WELFARE OFFICE
Absentee Shawnee Tribe ICW Program Vision Statement
"To emphasize the social, economic, health, and cultural needs of the Absentee Shawnee Tribal families while advocating for continuing improvement in overall quality of life within our community, the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. The ICW office seeks to ensure the preservation of our families, to guarantee the safety and protection of our children to provide advocacy for members in need, to provide for the unexpected special needs of families and youth at risk and to offer support, information, referral, crisis assistance, and services to families who need remedial or rehabilitative services, court supervision or protective services."
In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 USC 1901 et seq., which provides a legal basis for protection and services for Indian families and children. The ICWA establishes provisions for placement of such children.
Scope of ICW Involvement
Parents are expected to provide a minimum standard of care for their children. When parents fail to meet this standard, through abuse or neglect, the court may become involved. If the alleged abused/neglected child resides on Absentee Shawnee trust land, AST ICW will respond. If the AST child lives on state land where the alleged abuse/neglect occurred and not on trust land, a referral must be made to the DHS abuse and neglect hotline at 1-800-522-3511. After DHS receives the referral, they then decide whether to initiate the referral, or screen it out. If DHS accepts the referral for an investigation or an assessment, DHS will call the AST ICW Department and ask for assistance. ICW does not get involved with divorce proceedings, child custody disputes, or guardianships, because ICW only deals with the abuse and neglect of our native children. This is out of the scope of ICW’s job descriptions unless further ordered by the Court that ICW be involved. AST ICW ensures the safety, permanency, and well-being of our Absentee Shawnee children.
When state courts become involved with families and children that are removed from their parent(s)’s care, the Tribe is notified. A child must be an “Indian child” - a child must be under 18 years of age, a member of the Tribe, or eligible for membership and the biological child or a member. ICW attends court hearings, advocates for Indian children, verifies tribal enrollment, assists with services to the parents and assists with the placement of children.
Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF)
Formerly called Family Preservation and Support, PSSF promotes to enhance family strengths. Services are designed to help families at risk and/or to keep the family together. Client support is also available to ICW clients only to help facilitate reunification.
Child Protective Services
The purpose is to identify, treat and prevent child abuse/neglect and to ensure that reasonable efforts are made to maintain and to protect children in their own homes whenever possible. CPS is primarily responsible for conducting the initial child abuse or neglect investigation. During the investigation law enforcement may be contacted for a joint determination of whether removal is appropriate. CPS will assist families to resolve their problems so that children do not have to be removed from the home.
Tribal Permanency Worker
The Tribal Permanency Worker assists in providing or finding services to families whose children have been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect. The Tribal Permanency Worker and parents work together to develop a behaviorally based service treatment plan to correct the conditions which led to the removal of their child(ren). Services are designed to help children return to their homes. Tribal Child Treatment Worker monitors child welfare cases in state court systems throughout Oklahoma and the United States to ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, as well as monitors ICW cases in AST Juvenile Court.
Becoming a foster parent
As a foster parent, you will guide and support your foster child every day. You can help children and their families cope with the challenges that life brings. Foster care gives children a temporary home when their parents are not able to take care of them. In foster care, a child lives in a safe, stable home while the child’s family focuses on getting the assistance they need. The goal of our program is to return the child home safely. If that is a not possible option, a permanent home will be found. Tribal foster homes maintain a State/Tribal foster care agreement with the Department of Human Services; meaning the foster care worker will begin the initial application and assist the prospective foster parents(s) with any additional paperwork which must suffice the Department of Human Services (DHS) to get the foster home as an open, and paid resource. ICW works in conjunction with DHS to make sure our tribal foster homes are in the process of becoming a paid placement as soon as possible. If you would like to open your home to an Absentee Shawnee tribal child, please call (405) 878-4702.
Importance of watching the video- Indian Child Welfare Act and the importance of “PRESERVATION OF THE CULTURE”
This foster care recruitment video emphasizes the importance of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the importance of “PRESERVATION OF THE CULTURE” for the Indian child and the loss of identity if the child is placed in a non-Indian home. It is vital to our tribal children that Absentee Shawnee tribal members open their heart and home and apply to become foster parents to ensure that our Absentee Shawnee children stay connected to their kin, culture, and community.
Indian Child Welfare Director