The Minnesota Department of Human Services works with counties and tribes to improve the safety, well-being and permanency of American Indian children. Our work is guided by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, regulations and guidelines from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act and the Minnesota Tribal/State Agreement.
The American Indian Child Welfare Initiative is a significant child welfare reform effort in Minnesota. This program was created with a collaborative commitment between tribal, county and state governments with the shared goal of improving child welfare outcomes for Indian children.
With legislative authority, the department transferred roles and responsibilities from seven counties to two tribes and new state funds were allocated for the transfer. Tribes access federal reimbursements for eligible costs.
Since 2008, child welfare services for Indian children and their families living on the Leech Lake and White Earth Reservations was transformed from a county based delivery system to a tribal delivery system. Annually, over 3,000 individuals receive child abuse prevention, family preservation, child protection, foster care, foster care licensing, children’s mental health screening, reunification, kinship and customary adoption services.
Data is showing promising results. Tribal programs exceed statewide performance on some federal child welfare outcome measures.
Tribes can contract with the department to provide customary adoption services for children under tribal guardianship and the families who hope to adopt them. Adoption services support tribal custom and practice, including:
Explaining customary adoption processes to prospective adoptive parents
Completing and updating adoption home studies
Placing children in adoptive homes
Providing supports and services to children and families throughout the customary adoption process
Providing child-specific recruitment activities for children under tribal guardianship.
For more information, call Crystal Graves at 651-431-5723 or email.
Title IV-E of the Social Security Act is a federal program providing financial support to states and tribes to improve the quality of foster care, kinship and adoption services. The Minnesota Department of Human Services has entered into agreements with the Leech Lake, Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe and Red Lake and White Earth Nations. These agreements replace individual county and tribal substitute care supervision agreements and apply statewide. A Title IV-E agreement must be in effect before the tribes and counties can access federal reimbursement for foster care program costs for children for whom tribal social services agencies are responsible. Eligible costs include administrative, training and out-of-home placement expenses.
Minnesota has one of the highest rates of out-of-home care for Native American children in the country. The department is leading an effort to better understanding the causes and possible solutions to address the disproportionate number of Native American children in foster care. The partnership includes the Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, St. Louis County, Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Bois Forte Band of Chippewa will look at various decision points in the child protection process and prepare a report on their findings. A curriculum for training county and tribal social service agencies will be developed as part of the three-year project, ending in 2020. For further information, email DHS.ICWA.MIFPA@state.mn.us.
The Tribal/State Indian Child Welfare Agreement (TSA) DHS-5022 (PDF) establishes policies and procedures as agreed to by the State of Minnesota state and the eleven Minnesota tribal governments; it specifies the roles and responsibilities of each in the implementation of child welfare services to American Indian children and families. The purpose of this agreement is to protect the long-term best interests, as defined by the tribes, of American Indian children and their families by maintaining the integrity of the tribal family, extended family and the child’s tribal relationship.