FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

helps to consider all the resources available within a community, increasing possible placements for children being served by the ICW system. This approach is also less traumatic for a child who has to be temporarily placed outside their parental home. Language plays an exceedingly important role in establishing policies and practices in PGST child welfare, as well as throughout all other social service departments. Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal code deliberately excludes terms like “permanency.” The phrase “best interests of the child”—which was historically used to remove Indian children from their homes—is mentioned once in a variation as “best interests of the child and tribe.” This is used specifically to ensure that all options are considered when making decisions in the best interests of a child or a family. While adoption is included in the code, it is used only in very rare circumstances. To the best recollection of staff, there has never been a case involving the termination of parental rights heard in Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal Court. Even if a parent is unable to care for a child, the system allows for them to maintain their rights while the child is kept safe residing with a person the parent knows and trusts inside the PGST community. This commitment to keeping ICW services focused on and centrally localized for the PGST community is even reflected in the design of the Tribal Campus. Child & Family Services has been set up to house wrap-around social services; in one building, community members are able to easily access myriad family assistance programs, child support, foster care, maternal support programs, child welfare, and more. On the same campus— accessible by a short walk—are the Health Clinic and Tribal government offices related to housing, public safety, and natural resources, as well as others. The Tribal Campus is located at the heart of the reservation and is deliberately planned as a one-stop shop nestled in a rural area, where the closest state office to access comparable services can be up to 30 miles away. In a community where using or owning a car may ______________ 2 Title 16, of the Family Protection Code, Section 16.01.01, Definitions (d)

when it was time to step down from projects and let others lead. She was the driving force in supporting a lot of things at the Tribe, including, I suspect, the quote and spirit of the Family Protection Code.” Grandma Rose also represents another unique aspect of PGST’s community-based approach: members of the community being responsible for creating or heavily influencing policies and codes. In this way, they can put their real- world experiences to play in building a better future for S’Klallam families. Community-Forward Solutions Much of the S’Klallam culture is centered around community and celebrating those connections as often as possible. Gatherings of extended families and friends are commonplace. Social groups within the community are large, incorporating people of all generations and defining “family” broadly. The S’Klallam community is naturally structured to inherently support families, parents, and children in a healthy and productive way. PGST’s Children & Family department has been heavily influenced by these practices. Title 16 of the Family Protection Code, Section 16.01.01, Definitions (d) 2 defines “extended family” as follows: “This term does not have a precise definition.” That’s correct; there is no definition because this term means more than what can be easily codified. Within the customs of the Port Gamble S’Klallam, there are formal and informal ties that bind the community. Extended family ties are based on bloodlines, marriage, friendship, and caring. All women in the community become “auntie” or “grandma” when they reach a certain age, regardless of blood relationship. While grandparents (including great and great-great), aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, in-laws, and step relations are all considered extended family, any member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam community who is reliable, responsible, loving, and willing to care for a child may be considered extended family. This expanded definition of “extended family”

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