In 1978, the federal government passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in acknowledgment of the fact that large numbers of Native children were being separated from not only their parents but also from their extended families and communities, causing these children to lose touch with their culture and tribal identity. The ICWA requires that Native children entering the system must be placed with a relative if possible. The next choice is a foster family certified by the child’s tribe. If neither of those options is available, the child may be placed with a Native family certified by a state agency. Only after all of these options are exhausted is it allowable to place a Native child with a non-Native family.
Need For Tribal Foster Parents
According to the ICWA, Native families are still four times more likely to have their children removed than white families. Thus, the need for tribal foster parents is still incredibly high. It is vitally important to both the Native child and their tribe for the child to maintain cultural ties. Through tribal fostering, children are able to maintain the cultural bonds to their tribal community, and they avoid much of the trauma that could otherwise result from being removed from their homes.
In Oklahoma, tribes are responsible for certifying their own tribal foster homes. Once certified, tribal parents may be dually certified by DHS. In compliance with ICWA, Oklahoma DHS makes every effort to place Tribal children with approved tribal foster parents according to their tribe’s preferences.
Learn More About Tribal Foster Parents
Our community needs all the qualified foster parents we can get. Indeed, the need is even greater among our tribal communities. Contact your tribe for information on becoming a certified tribal foster parent. To learn how to get certified with DHS, contact us or start here.