FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

© Joe Price - Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribal gatherings, and song and dance.

not be an option and in a county with unreliable and sparse public transit, this is essential to ensure that people living on the reservation can access the services they need. This thoughtful approach to serving the community expands to every PGST department. All governmental offices are encouraged to think through what will work for Tribal members and their families based on not just policies and previous experience but on the feedback they receive from the community. There is an acknowledgment that systems within the Tribe will be reflective but may look and operate differently than state or federal programs outside it. These programs are given the power to put the community, rather than procedure, first. When there is an outside program that the community could benefit from, PGST leadership works to negotiate with that agency or office directly to make it more accessible. An example of this is the intergovernmental agreement between PGST and the state of Washington to provide basic food benefits.

This is why Child & Family Services—in all of their programs—feels so empowered in their community-focused approach. The resulting creative solutions and individually tailored service plans often result in keeping a family together, at least in some capacity. All PGST families are provided access to parenting skills courses that emphasize S’Klallam core values and values of community, togetherness, and care. They are encouraged to reach out to staff or other community members for any support they need. All involved do their best to remove any shame that exists in asking for help. This has led to successful reunifications of parents and children, even in cases where history might dictate that there was little hope of such an outcome. Miller, Director of Children & Family Services, states, “this has also encouraged caseworkers and other service providers to set aside biases and see every family, every parent, as worth working with, recognizing their strengths.” They are encouraged to let families rely on themselves and their strengths, intervening when necessary to ensure the safety of children. This flexibility not only creates

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