CNO Declares May 2022 “Foster Care Awareness Month”
Published May 19, 2022
DURANT, OK – Chief Gary Batton, Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO), recently issued a proclamation recognizing May 2022 as Foster Care Awareness Month. “This month, and always, we express our gratitude to all the Tribal families who generously open their doors to our Tribal children in need and provide them with love and support,” wrote Chief Batton. “We recommit to support our children by helping provide increased opportunities to recruit more Native Champions of Children to invest in the lives of our vulnerable young people.”
According to Robert B. Whitfield, CNO Foster Care Recruiter, there are 721 Choctaw Children nationwide who are currently in out-of-home foster care. Of those, 369 are in foster care within the State of Oklahoma with 90 residing in tribal foster homes. In 2021, the Choctaw Nation had on average 65 tribal foster homes across Oklahoma. In those homes, CNO provides three types of care: emergency care, respite care, and traditional foster care.
“We have a pressing need for homes,” said Whitfield. “We offer traditional foster homes which foster a child for prolonged periods; however, we also need respite and emergency homes.” Respite homes provide breaks for other foster families when the need arises, and emergency homes provide care from one night up to one week until a family or traditional foster home can be located.
American Indian and Alaskan Native children are overrepresented in the nation’s foster care system at more than 1.6 times the expected level, according to National Indian Child Welfare reported statics. In 1978, Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to protect the best interests of Indian children by establishing federal standards for states removing children from their family homes and placing them outside of that home.
“Choctaw foster families are doing more than just providing a home to an Indian child,” according to the CNO Foster Care & Adoption webpage. “They are part of a team that works toward reunifying a child with their family. This includes maintaining a child’s social and cultural heritage, serving as a temporary parent to the child and providing for their basic needs, such as food, clothing and safety.”
For more information about becoming a foster home or to apply, please visit the CNO Foster Care webpage to begin the application process. For more information on how to become a Choctaw Foster Family, contact Sonya Garrett, CNO Foster Care Manager, at (580) 924-8280.
Requirements to become a Choctaw Foster Family:
- Enrolled member of any federally recognized tribe (you or your spouse)
- Single or married
- At least 21 years of age
- Have the emotional, physical, and financial abilities to provide for a child’s needs
- Submit to a search of all state and national criminal history records
- No household member has a prior conviction of a sexual offense.
- Attend pre-service training
- No household member has confirmed child welfare history.
- Provide information for a family assessment (home study)
- Fill out an application online at the CNO Foster Care & Adoption webpage
About the Choctaw Nation
The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with more than 200,000 tribal members and 10,000-plus associates. This ancient people has an oral tradition dating back over 13,000 years. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, its historic reservation boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma, covering 10,923 square miles. The Choctaw Nation's vision, "Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture," is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity.
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