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Interior Alaska Native foster children get federal support

December 18, 2013

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - December 17, 2013
Sam Friedman /

FAIRBANKS - Tanana Chiefs Conference will become the first tribal consortium in Alaska eligible for Federal Foster Care Program reimbursements with an agreement to be signed Wednesday.

Alaska Native children in foster care in Interior Alaska are managed by two systems — one through local tribal governments and one through the state of Alaska's Office of Children's Services.

In the past, the state's payments to foster families were partially reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Federal Foster Care Program, but the tribal programs payments were not. The agreement between the state and TCC, a non-profit consortium of 37 Interior tribes, allows TCC to receive Federal Foster Care Program reimbursements.

The federal reimbursement is worth $300,000 and $400,000 to the tribal foster care system, according to Don Shircel, director of client development for TCC. Federal Foster Care Program reimbursements have been a goal for more than two decades, he said, but weren't available until a recent change in federal law that lets Alaska Native tribes qualify.

Tribal foster programs now care for about 150 foster children in the TCC region, according to Shircel. The state-run foster care system cares for an additional 250 Alaska Native children and about 120 non-Native children in the the northern region, which includes all of the state north of the Alaska Range.

TCC and the state will hold a signing ceremony for the agreement at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center.


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