Officials with Iowa’s Department of Human Services this morning promise an important announcement about a new alliance on the effort to combat child abuse. D-H-S spokesman Roger Munns says it’s also a response to charges about the rate at which minority kids are removed from their homes. For a couple of years, the department, along with the Community Initiative for Native Children and Families, an American Indian group, has worked to create a program to reduce racial inequities in the child-welfare system. Now the Casey Family Foundation has chosen this program as one of just a few in the country showing the most promise.
Set up back in 1966, the Casey Family Foundation was created by the man who founded United Parcel Service. This national foundation specializes in battling child abuse, and Munns says this program’s honored by its attention. He says it’s tough to answer the charge that Native American kids in northwest Iowa as well as northeast Nebraska and parts of South Dakota are removed from their homes and put in foster care at a higher rate than kids from homes of other racial makeup. “There are going to be differences,” Munns says carefully, “whenever you have somebody declaring that somebody else’s child has been neglected or abused.” Still, he says all the agencies agree they’re working to reduce the incidence of abuse and neglect. “In fact, we’d like to work ourselves out of a job. If there wasn’t any more of that (child abuse) we wouldn’t have to worry about all this.” But in cases where there’s abuse and neglect, the member agencies are united in what the reaction should be.
They all agree that if it’s safe, a child should stay in the hone. If that’s not possible, the next step should be placing the child with a relative. And they’re agreed that if that can’t happen, a childplaced out of the home should be placed in a “culturally sensitive home,” all with the same goal…eventually to return the child to the family.
At nine this morning in South Sioux City, Nebraska, the Casey Foundation will announce its support for the Woodbury County approach, one of four promising programs in the nation to win its approval. Also on hand will be Connie Bear King with the Community Initiative for Native Children and Families, and a member of the Washington-based Center for the Study of Social Policy.