July 3, 2017
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation announced a new foster care paid leave policy that is the first of its kind in Indian Country, and also one of the first in the state of Oklahoma.
The new policy announced at the 2017 Cherokee Nation Employee Appreciation Day on Friday grants Cherokee Nation full-time employees five additional days of paid leave when a Cherokee child is placed in their Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare certified home.
“By offering support to our employees and the Cherokee Nation’s Indian Child Welfare program, we are investing in the futures of Cherokee children across the 14 counties. We have so many beautiful children who temporarily need a safe and secure environment,” said Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Cherokee Nation will be the only tribal government and one of the first businesses in Oklahoma with a policy specifically designated for foster families, and the numbers of Cherokee children in need demand a forward-thinking approach. It is part of our core Cherokee values to assume responsibility and take care of our children. That’s why we are expanding our internal procedures when it comes to Cherokee Nation employees who opt to foster a Cherokee child.”
Currently, the tribe has 15 families that work for the Cherokee Nation that are open for placement through the tribe’s ICW office for foster care. The employees can use the leave for attending initial doctor visits, coordinating daycare schedules, bonding with the child during initial placement or other tasks during placement.
The five additional days of paid leave for a full-time employee can be used at the employee’s discretion during the first full year after placement.
“Support is key for these children and families,” said Nikki Baker Limore, Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare executive director. “Moving a child into a new situation is never easy, but we are confident that with the progressive work of our ICW team and the support from Chief Baker with the new foster care leave policy, we are providing our Cherokee children and our employees with the support and tools they need.”
Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare has custody of approximately 80 children during any calendar year but intervenes as a party and participates in more than 1,600 cases per year throughout the United States. ICW participates by attending court hearings, working with children and parents to reunify families, and meeting all needs as they pertain to each case.
In the last five years, Cherokee Nation has increased employee benefits through policies that raised minimum wage to $9.50 an hour and provided a full eight weeks of paid maternity leave to mothers and six weeks of paid paternity leave to fathers.
For more information on Cherokee Nation’s Indian Child Welfare programs and services, visit http://www.cherokeekids.org/.