You’ve heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but the Snoqualmie Tribe believes it all starts with a caring and loving family. The Kiya? Foster Care Program, which translates into grandmother in the Lutshootseed language, is searching for families who can make a difference in a child’s life.
Candidate foster families can be Native American or non-native, but the main goal of the program is to ensure that Native American children in foster care live in a home that allows the child to embrace their culture and feel comfortable and welcome in their new community.
The Snoqualmie’s are dedicated to ensuring that all Native American children are raised in a loving and stable environment that nurtures knowledge and pride in their heritage. But the Kiya? program is more than that. It also helps the state of Washington comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), enacted by Congress in 1978. The ICWA re-establishes tribal authority over the adoption of Native American children. Before the ICWA, many Native American families were broken up and their cultural heritage was lost because nontribal agencies removed children from their homes and placed them into non-native environments. The goal of the federal mandate is to strengthen Native American families which, in turn, preserves the culture. Kiya? also functions as a liaison between the state and potential foster families who need assistance in attaining foster home certification and receiving state funding.
The Snoqualmie t ribe offers a wide array of services that support the placement of children into foster homes. Many children need foster care because they have experienced a break with family and community and are adrift in a life of shame, low self-esteem and emotional pain. Available resources include family counseling, alcohol/drug outpatient services, elder services, Indian Child Welfare Services, childcare assistance for low-income families and resource and referral services.
The Snoqualmie Tribe also runs two local medical clinics. These resources are available to foster families and to other native and non-native community members as well. Organized youth activities, such as the “Canoe Journey” project and Saturday evening song and drumming sessions, allow Native American children to re-connect with their heritage while engaging in constructive, confidence-building activities. As always, these events are open to the public and non-native participation is encouraged.
The program serves King, Snohomish, Mason, Island and Pierce counties. Families can be located in any of these five counties. Candidate families must be willing to undergo a background check and home and personal assessments to be licensed by the state as a foster care provider. Funding to foster homes is provided by the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Although Kiya? specializes in serving the Native American community, all children are served regardless of their cultural, ethnic, or religious orientation.
Please consider this important opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life. Every family has a special talent or gift that would enrich the life of a child in desperate need of a stable home environment. If you would like more information, contact Kim O’Hagan, Kiya? program social worker, or Di Daugherty-King, social worker for Youth and Family Services, at the Snoqualmie Tribe offices in Carnation at (424) 333-5425.