- THE CONFEDERATED TRIBES OF GRAND RONDE
- TRIBAL DEMOGRAPHICS
- PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
- PLANNING & IMPLEMENTATION
- PROGRAM OUTCOMES
- RELETED DOCUMENTS
Summary: The Tribal Member Review Board, is a community-led process for handling child abuse and neglect cases referred by the tribal court. As an alternative to the regular tribal court process, the program provides youth in the child welfare system with a sense of community support and offers tribal members a mechanism for helping to resolve child abuse and neglect cases. The board consists of three tribal members who are carefully selected from a pool of volunteers to best fit the case at hand. After conducting hearings, the board delivers recommendations to the tribal court designed to support the child’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being and connection to their culture and community. If the court approves the recommendations, the case stays before the board for ongoing supervision.
Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
Tribal Member Review Board
Program Running Length:
Tribal Court Administrator
Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Tribal Court
9615 Grand Ronde Road
Grand Ronde, OR 97347
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail)
The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde are headquartered in Grand Ronde, Oregon, approximately 50 miles west of Portland and 20 miles east of the Oregon coast.
The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde aresituated in the Oregon Coastal Mountain Range. A large portion of the Reservation is timber land that is harvested according to a Tribal Timber Management Plan. The remainder of the Reservation is made up of parcels scattered throughout Yamhill and Polk Counties.
The Tribe has 5,297 enrolled members. The majority of tribal members live within the State of Oregon.
The Tribal Member Review Board (TMRB) was created to remedy the disconnect between the tribal court and the tribal community in child welfare matters. Shifting away from considering child abuse and neglect solely as family issues, the TMRB provides a mechanism for tribal member input into cases involving the Native children ofGrand Ronde.
The Tribal Member Review Boardaims to supportchildren in the tribal child welfare system.The TMRB does not work with cases in the state child welfare system.
The Tribal Member Review Board was modeled after the Oregon Citizen Review Board Program. To obtain community input for the project, the chief judge and tribal court administrator held meetings with the tribal council and the children and family services program. The planning and implementation process took approximately a year, and the TMRB heard its first cases in 2005.
The Tribal Member Review Board was developed to give tribal membersa role in the handling of child abuse and neglect cases. By getting regular tribal members involved these cases, the programconveys to children that the community cares about their well-being and wants to make a positive impact in their lives. The TMRB offers the Grand Ronde community a chance to make a difference in the lives of its children, as well asa sense of ownership and responsibility for the child welfare system.“The view across the community is that these are our kids and we want them to grow up healthy and happy.” – Justine Colton, Program Specialist
The Board: Each Tribal Member Review Board member must be over 21 years of age, a member of the tribe—preferablyliving within thetribe’s six-county service area—andhave knowledge or experience in parenting, foster care, tribal customs, juvenile law, heath care, mental health,and/or social work. Prospective members must be approved by the tribal council. The court administrator and a program specialist provide training for new members. The training program includesa discussion about the program’s purpose, a review of the program’s policies and procedures, an overview of the hearing process, participation in a mock hearing, presentations on child development and health, and an observation of an actual TMRB hearing.
Hearing a Case: Once the TMRB accepts a case, the program specialist carefully selects three individuals from the TMRB’s pool of volunteers to participate in that case. Selection is based on members’ experience and expertise relating to the case. For example, a volunteer with experience as an educator may be selected to participate in a case involving a child with an academic issue.
Hearings are typically an hour long and are held at a set of tables in the tribal courtroom. They may include parents/guardians, attorneys, social workers, case workers, and the child (depending on their age and level of comfort). One of the three board members volunteers in advance to serve as the chairperson and facilitate the hearing. Board members review the case file prior to the hearing to familiarize themselves with the facts and prepare questions for the parties.
The hearing begins with a welcome and introductions. The chairperson asks the first question and then the conversation flows organically until the board and all parties are finished with their questions and answers. The content of each hearing is guided by the stage of the child welfare case. For example, if the hearing is a status review, the board asks about the family’s progress in their case plans. If the hearing is to review a permanency plan, the board asks about how the plan is working and whether other permanency arrangements should be made.
When the hearing is complete, the board then deliberates and crafts recommendations specific to the case. The program specialist drafts a report summarizing the hearing and the board’s recommendations. Ultimately, the judge approves or denies the recommendations for the child.
The board sees each child once or twice each year, depending on the case. The board may also request a report on the child’s progress and the status of the recommendations. The case can be sent back to the tribal court if requested, but otherwise it stays before the board.
Confidentiality: The TMRB hearings are considered part of the court process,and court staff have access to information from the hearings. Otherwise, no case information is shared. All parties are informed about confidentiality and its limits as part of the hearing’s opening statement.
The Tribal Member Review Board is managed by a tribal court program specialist. The board for each case consists of three community volunteers, one of whom serves as the chairperson.
Referral Process: The program specialist reviews each child welfare case to determine if the case should be sent to the Tribal Member Review Board. Once a potential TMRB case is identified, it is sent to the court administrator. The court administrator either approves or denies the request and sends it to the judge, who decides if the casewill be sent to the TMRB for review. The judge may also select cases for board review. Cases are selected based on the complexity and posture of the case. If the case has several complex legal issues, the matter will most likely not be referred to the board. Most cases that are assigned to the board are relatively stable cases involving long term permanent placements for guardianships.
The Tribal Member Review Board is supported solely through tribal funding.
Tribal planners received assistance from the Oregon Citizens Review Board (CRB), upon which the TMRB is based. The tribal court administrator modified the Oregon program to fit the tribe’s culture and community but retained the basic structure of the state program.
The volunteers’care and compassion has been a major factor behind the program’s success. Their dedication to the children of the tribal community is what drives them to participate and leads to positive outcomes for the children.
Initially, the biggest challenge for the TMRB was providing training to the volunteers, as it was often difficult for the volunteers to commit enough time. The TMRB adapted by reducing the amount of in-person training required. Currently, the biggest challengesare recruiting new volunteers and managing their schedules to ensure that three volunteers are available at the same time for a hearing.
The TMRB staff highly recommends adapting a program that already exists and reaching out to the practitioners implementing those programs for guidance.
The TMRB has met its goal of providing a community input mechanism for tribal child welfare matters, and has been effective in holding families accountable for the well-being of their children as well. As the volunteers are part of the community, the TMRB is also able to provide families with information about tribal events and services of which they were previously unaware.
The community response to the TMRB has been very positive, as it provides a method for tribal members to have a voice in child welfare matters involving the community’s children. Feedback from attorneys, case workers, and participants has been uniformly positive.
In one case, a teen girl was approaching the age of 18, when she would have the option of leaving the wardship of the tribal court. Most teens at this stage in their lives are eager to be independent, even when it’s not in their best interest. This young woman, however, had developed such positive relationships with the board members and court staff that she chose to extendher wardship with the court, enabling the board to continue supporting her. The board was able to recommend resources to help her enroll in college and support her through her first year.
TMRB Information Sheet and TMRB Volunteer Application
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