Tribal Values in the Home
The Ninilchik Tribe strives to support the wellbeing and community health of its people in the Dena’ina tradition of caring for children and elders. Part of this support is the preservation of a safety network that ensures at-risk children and their families have access to options that offer them the best support while respecting strong cultural ties. With the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act NTC’s Tribal Services department can be the advocate for tribal children who often do not have a voice in their own wellbeing.
What is ICWA?
The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed by US congress in 1978 to allow tribal governments jurisdiction in cases regarding child removal and foster care for Native children in their tribe. The act was created in a response to the cultural degradation of tribal people that resulted from the 1800’s to early 1900’s policies which promoted various governmental, educational, and religious institutions to remove Native children from their families and homelands and place them into non-Native foster families. This practice was done to assimilate Native children into a non-Native culture, which was viewed as a healthier way of living during that time period.
ICWA grants tribal governments either exclusive jurisdiction or concurrent jurisdiction shared with state governments over Native children’s social welfare cases. Exactly how ICWA affairs are presided over vary from tribe to tribe because each tribe has different traditional practices and different types of administrative and judicial bodies. Due to Alaskan tribes’ unique non-reservation based system of governance and other determining factors the Ninilchik Tribe elects to hold concurrent jurisdiction with the State of Alaska in ICWA cases.
ICWA in Ninilchik & Outreach Contact
The Ninilchik Traditional Council assigns ICWA affairs to the Tribal Services department and its primary contact for clients is ICWA Specialist Bettyann Steciw. Tribal ICWA representatives are experts on children’s welfare and act as an intermediary voice on behalf of clients to state officials, agents, and social work representatives from other tribes. Clients, agents, and anyone who wants to know more about ICWA’s guidelines and learn about how to recognize and report suspected child endangerment or welfare needs is welcome to contact Bettyann at the Administration Office.
ICWA is not a legal program or law service and does not initiate proceedings.
The NTC ICWA committee is made up of tribal member volunteers to review ICWA related social service policy and cases to make recommendations.
If a child is in immediate danger please call 911 first.
If you have a concern about the wellbeing of a child please call Bettyann Steciw at 567-3313. If you are calling outside of office hours please dial her extension given in the phone prompt to leave a message detailing your concern. All messages and communications to the Tribal Services department are confidential.
To report suspected abuse and neglect you can also contact the Southcentral Region Office of Children’s Services (OCS) toll-free at 1-855-352-8934 to file a report. Your identity and personal information are not revealed to anybody other than OCS professionals and is kept confidential from all clients and members of the public.
Foster Homes & Adoption
Reporting and mediating child welfare cases is only the first step to ensure children who have experienced abuse and neglect have an opportunity to achieve a healthy lifestyle in the future. It takes the dedication, support, and love from positive role models who choose to become adoptive or foster parents. The need for foster and adoptive parents is always high, especially for those who are able to share modern tribal values with children who otherwise would not be able to live their inherited Native cultural values by example.
ICWA, Foster Care, and Adoption Contact: Bettyann Steciw