[Humboldt County] New county agreement promises to keep Hoopa Tribe involved in child welfare decisions

Blog note: this article references a grand jury report.

Child welfare matters in Humboldt County are handled by the county Department of Health and Human Services, which now promises it will work with Native American tribal agencies in situations concerning Hoopa Valley Tribe children. 

The county’s Child Welfare Services division will now report situations of Native American child abuse to the Hoopa Tribe’s own child welfare services. The division agreed to a memorandum of understanding, or a general agreement, with the tribe, which the county Board of Supervisors approved at its Tuesday meeting.

The agreement comes nearly a year after the Humboldt County Superior Court accepted the state attorney general’s “stipulated judgment,” which found the county’s CWS division doesn’t follow efficient reporting procedures in the event of suspected child abuse.

A large portion of reported child abuse and neglect victims are Native American children, the county grand jury concluded in 2017. Many reports come out of the Klamath-Trinity Unified School District in Hoopa.

As part of its judgment, the attorney general mandated CWS to form an agreement of proper protocol with eight federally recognized tribes “that will ensure timely, shared decision-making relating to cases involving tribal children,” according to a portion of the judgment found in the county’s staff report.

The Hoopa Valley Tribe agreement is the first of eight that the CWS will complete.

Olin Jones, the tribal consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services for the project, said it was a fulfilling process bringing the county and the tribes “face to face.”

“It’s been great building collaboration and helping tribes come to the table and clear up some of the contentiousness of the past,” Jones said. “It’s been really good to get out there … tell (the tribes) what we’re doing and get their permission to proceed with the policies and procedures reform.”

Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell praised all involved for getting the process started.

“Part of the issue was who gets notified when and who’s in the loop,” Fennell said. “This (agreement) is perfect.”

“This is a long time coming,” said 3rd District Supervisor Mike Wilson. He noted that the process of developing these lines of collaboration dated back from before he was in office.

“It’s these cross-cultural efforts are both challenging and rewarding at the same time,” Wilson said. “Everybody learns a lot. Everybody has to come together and hear things they didn’t necessarily know about.”

February 5, 2019

Eureka Times Standard

By Shomik Mukherjee 

County: