Emergency foster care home up and running in Oglala

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OGLALA, S.D. (KOTA TV) A seven year quest to bring an emergency foster care home for young children in need on the Pine Ridge Reservation -- and to chip away at troubling child protective trends -- is a reality today.

Emergency foster home founder Barbara Dull Knife.

And organizers say they are just getting started.

When Barbara Dull Knife retired from the U.S. Attorney's office in Rapid City in 2010 she set her sights on helping children in the care of tribal child protective services. Safe homes for the kids are in short supply.

“It's pretty hard to come by foster parents,” said Dull Knife.

Even as a methamphetamine epidemic ravages more and more families.

“My vision is that we would build a children's home on this land,” said Dull Knife surveying five acres she is donating to the effort. “A safe place and someplace where children would be happy.”

Last month the first piece of her vision fell into place with the opening of an emergency foster care home in a building donated by the Loneman School District. Children 12 and under have a refuge staffed with certified professionals.

“It's very rewarding to have this job,” said emergency home foster parent Muriel Lame. “But I wouldn't call it a job. I would just say that it's more of like a duty. It's like a calling. That's what I would say."

Dull Knife said it was an emotional day when the home opened in February.

“When we got our first five children I just went in there to watch them eat and I just cried,” she said.

And, says Dull Knife, it is just a beginning.

On the land she is donating near Oglala plans are to build a permanent, 40-bed home for children in need, something tribal Child Protective Services Executive Director Lisa Schrader said would fill a pressing need.

Dull Knife said that the home is looking for donations of office supplies and a vehicle to ferry children to the clinic or respond to emergencies.