Masters Thesis

Humboldt County Foster Care Program: addressing the challenges of recruitment and retention for rural and indigenous communities

In a brief from the Department of Health and Human Services (Recent demographics, 2013), data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) estimated that although national trends have shown dramatic declines in most ethnic groups entering foster care over the past 10 years, Native American/Alaskan Natives (NA/IA) have only seen a slight drop in numbers. Since 2009, NA/IA children have entered the foster care system at higher rates than any other ethnic group (Recent demographics, 2013). Between 2008 and 2010, California Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) created the Continuum of Readiness to address these disproportionate rates in order to comply with Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in collaboration with tribes and Indigenous communities (Lidot, Orrantia, & Choca, 2012). Through the collaboration, Humboldt County has been designated for a test pilot program due to the high proportions of Indigenous children in the child welfare system. In addition, due to the small population and large service are, Humboldt County has previously participated in a test model to address the need to integrate rural human services (Gutierrez, et al, 2012). Part of the child welfare system is foster care. This project looked at and compared the Grand Ronde Tribe foster program with that of Humboldt Counties in an attempt to find what has worked in a successful program in an effort to make improvements to Humboldt County’s foster care program. Emphasis for this project was placed on the recruitment and retention of Indigenous foster families as well as addressing the challenges for potential foster families in rural areas.