Following the filing of a federal lawsuit which involved Pennington County’s adherence to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), there has been an increase in kinship placements of Native American Children in foster care. As reported by KOTA News, kinship placement is foster care with either relatives or other tribal members and is a key component of ICWA.
Prior to the lawsuit, only 9% of Native American children in state custody were placed in kinship care. By 2013, when the lawsuit was filed, 21% of children were placed in kinship care. The percentage of Native American children in Pennington County placed in kinship care has remained over 20% since the lawsuit’s filing, with a record 29% set in 2014.
While the lawsuit did not address kinship placement, both attorney Dana Hanna, representing the tribal parties, as well as Pennington County state’s attorney Mark Vargo agreed that the lawsuit address and improve upon the care received by Native American children in Pennington County.
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