FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

better outcomes for families but also helps with the retention of child welfare workers. The closeness of the community can also help caseworkers find solutions to complex problems. For example, one case involved a child with ongoing behavioral issues that had escalated to a point where the ICW team wasn’t able to locate a willing foster placement. The only possible family was moving out of state, so the situation was quickly becoming dire! With all this in mind, the department tried something radical: on the suggestion of Grandma Rose, a community meeting was set up to explain the problem and open the door to any suggestions. During that gathering, several members of the community who were not connected to the family volunteered to foster the child. Community-forward services are based on the idea of “the village”, the concept that we are all a part of one place and, by working together, we can live shared values and culture. It emphasizes caring for the individual within the context of the community they are a part of while recognizing that systems work better for all when roles—for staff, community members, and caregivers—aren’t static. Like the tribal attorney that negotiates the most complex legal agreements one day and enthusiastically brings coffee to an Elder the next morning, this system works because everyone pitches in.

The community-based approach used by the Port Gamble S’Klallam was born out of a desire to help Tribal youth maintain a connection to their culture and heritage. At least a generation of children lost to the idea of the “proper” way to raise a child—read: Eurocentric ideals—are a painful reminder of what’s at stake. PGST is just now recovering its culture and identity, some 40-plus years since this horrific practice ended. By creating their own way to help and support families and children in crisis, PGST is forging a new path, one informed by the past, honoring the strengths of its people today, and laying the groundwork for a strong legacy ahead. _________________________ Cheryl Miller is a Director of Children & Family Services for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. Sheylaya Jones, is an enrolled member of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, and a teacher at the PGST Early Childhood Education Center. She is a mother to two beautiful children. Andrea Smith is counsel for Children & Family Services for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. Ginger Nikole Vaughan is a communications consultant specializing in helping others tell their stories. She has been working with Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe for over a decade.

FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 87

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