Movement grows to reform child protective services on Pine Ridge reservation
A heart wrenching child custody case has sparked a wide ranging effort to reform child protective services on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
“We need to start focusing on the best interest of the child,” said reform advocate Angie Shangreaux.
Two year old Kylen Shangreaux was beaten to death in July just weeks after tribal judges awarded custody to his mother.
In October the council fired three judges, including chief judge Kimberly Kraven.
Now a wide ranging effort in under way to reform a system that routinely returns children to their biological parents.
The council has shifted oversight of Child Protective Services to the Law and order committee. It used to fall under the Health and Human Services Committee.
“Under the law and order committee we’ll be able to work with law–enforcement and other agencies,” said committee chairman Stanley Little White Man. “We need to establish protocols where all people and agencies understand that they have certain roles to play and not just push everything off on CPS.”
The tribal council has also hired a new director at the tribe's Child Protective Services who wants to bring a change in focus.
“We can't take back the tragedy, but what we can do is provide wraparound services and update and correct the gaps in our services for our families and children,” said the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s CPS Director Lisa Schrader. “And really focus on what is in the best interest of our children.”
The Oglala Lakota Children's Justice Center, that grew out of the CASA organization, is helping the reform efforts and hopes to bring more traditional Lakota values to CPS procedures.