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Lac du Flambeau families benefit from foster care changes

August 14, 2014

LAC DU FLAMBEAU, Wis. (WXPR) -- Lac du Flambeau hopes to provide more support for families and kids in its foster care system. The state of Wisconsin has signed an agreement allowing the tribe to access a new stream of federal funding. The Title IV-E program is the federal government’s foster care program.  Until recently, funds from that program have gone to the state of Wisconsin and its counties, but have never been funneled to the tribes. That’s changing, now that officials have signed an agreement allowing that money to flow directly to the tribe’s foster care administration.

Kristin Allen, director of the tribe’s Indian Child Welfare Department, says right now there are too many cases and not enough case managers. She says the extra funding is needed to pay for more staff.  “So we look to not only hit the benchmark of two visits each month for each parent and child, we want to look at seeing them every week at least. So our goal is to always provide better, so that we can teach the families and children where they’re struggling, and in the end reunify children with their parents.”

Allen says with more resources, staff can also do more preventative work, giving support to struggling families before the point of taking the kids away.

State Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson says the new funding may help the tribe focus its attention on other problems that contribute to the demand for foster care. “Once you get through one hurdle, the next hurdle doesn’t look so big. And right now tribes, like many families in Wisconsin, are facing huge drug problems. And hopefully doing this and solving this will give them strength and hopefulness to solve other problems.”

Lac du Flambeau tribal chairman Tom Maulson says the agreement signals a growing relationship between the tribe and the state…and touches on a painful history of separation of Native children from their homes and culture.

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