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Foster families incorporate Native American culture

Social Services workers and families agree there is a definite need for more foster care families, especially Native American foster families.

Lowell Nation, of Sioux descent, from Ft. Peck, Mont., says placing children in families that are much different than their own, can be shocking to both the child and their family.

"One of my grandchildren is in foster care in Stark County and he has lived with both Native American and non-Native American families," Nation said. "Although the best situation would be to have him home, I think his transition and daily life is much smoother when he is with a family that is similar to our own."

There are two Native American foster families in Stark County said Stark County Foster Care Supervisor Debra Trytten. "That is pretty good but we are always looking for more."

Nation said he worries that Native American children who are placed with non-Native American families miss out on learning and celebrating their heritage.

"They miss out on seeing there families and tribal celebrations," he said. "They often take on the beliefs, values and customs of the non-Native American family they are staying with rather than the ones they would take on if they were staying with a Native American family."

Trytten says she doesn't feel that the children miss as much as Nation claims.

"Native American ways are different from non-Native American ways and we need to respect that," Trytten said. "We make every effort to make sure children get to see their families and be involved in activities and events important to them."

She added social workers, foster care supervisors and foster care families work closely with the tribes and children's families to make sure the children are learning about the history, culture and teachings of their family.

"The foster families we have in Stark County are great," Trytten said. "We have children from North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana and their foster families have always taken road trips to take them to different activities. They understand how important all those things are to helping a child's self esteem, character and understanding."

Dunn County Social Services Worker Mary Lou Manz agrees, adding if a family is unable to get the child to events, the overseer of the case will try and make other arrangements to make it possible for the child to do so.

Manz said all the counties in southwest North Dakota need more foster families of all types.

"Right now we sit at about one case a year. I'm sure all counties are different but with the influx of people I feel we might see a rise in the number of children needing foster care, and if that is the case it would be better to have a variety of homes so we can better match families and children."

Manz and Trytten say it is fairly easy to become a foster parent.

"The need is great and the rewards are immeasurable," Trytten said. "It truly is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child and their family."

Foster care is a temporary living arrangement for abused, neglected, and dependent children who need a safe place to live when their parents or another relative cannot take care of them. North Carolina department of health and human services.

Children and youth are placed in foster care when their parents (or guardians) are no longer able to ensure their essential wellbeing, according fostercaremonth.org.

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