A few good sources of information have become available on this topic since I first posted my response to NPR’s reports on Native American Children in foster care. The local public radio program Dakota Midday devoted an hour to the issue on its November 1st program. Among its guests included Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Social Services Kim Malsam-Rysdon and former Secretary Deb Bowman. The program is recommended listening for those interested in this topic. Some interesting facts from the interview above include:
- Almost 50% of Native children who are removed in South Dakota are removed by tribal courts.
- The South Dakota Department of Social Services received around 16,000 reports of abuse or neglect last year, conducted about 3,900 investigations, and removed about 1,400 children.
- Almost 50% of children who are removed are eventually reunified with a parent.
- The budget for child protection services last year in South Dakota was about 59 million dollars. (Note that the NPR reports repeatedly indicate that over 100 million was received from the federal government for foster care.)
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has remained publicly silent for the most part since the reports aired. However, it appears that his office sent an email to state legislators responding to the upcoming reports before they aired. It does not mince words in accusing Laura Sullivan of bias, and states that “every state official who has dealt with Sullivan, including Secretary of Social Services Kim Malsam‐Rysdon and Governor’s Office Press Secretary Joe Kafka, has characterized Sullivan as being one‐sided and predisposed to a particular position, regardless of the facts.” This document is available online here. Given my prior analysis of these reports, I cannot say that I am surprised.
It also seems that the Governor’s office might be acting more aggressively behind the scenes. A November 1 article in the Rapid City Journal indicates that “staffers followed up Monday with seven pages of detailed rebuttals to the NPR report and allegations of inaccuracies and bias.” I have not been able to find that rebuttal anywhere, and called the Governor’s office in an attempt to find it. The staff there indicated that they are communicating with NPR, and it is uncertain whether the Governor’s office will be issuing any public statements.
*** The seven page rebuttal from the Governor’s office is now available here.