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Published October 03, 2013, 03:54 PM

BIA Social Services program takes a hit because of the government shutdown

It was October first 2012 when the Bureau of Indian Affairs took over child protection services on the Spirit Lake Nation. One year to the day after that event, the government shutdown immediately reduced the effectiveness the BIA can have helping children on the reservation. Funding has been cut off, leaving BIA social services short staffed, which has tribal leaders concerned.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

It was October first 2012 when the Bureau of Indian Affairs took over child protection services on the Spirit Lake Nation. One year to the day after that event, the government shutdown immediately reduced the effectiveness the BIA can have helping children on the reservation. Funding has been cut off, leaving BIA social services short staffed, which has tribal leaders concerned.

Tribal Chairman Russ McDonald says only a skeleton crew is left to deal with child protection services on the reservation after the federal government shut down. McDonald says essential services like the BIA police and Indian Health Services are still running. But the halls of the BIA offices were nearly empty Thursday. McDonald says social services has been hit hard by the shutdown. He says in-depth social work, like placing foster children, is being interrupted. He does say remaining staff members are able to perform a few essential social service functions during the shutdown.

McDonald says he's disappointed in Congress for letting the government shut down, he says he hopes lawmakers can come together soon for the good of all tribal people across the country. BIA superintendent Monte LaBeau was the only employee in the BIA wing of the tribal administration building Thursday. He wouldn't comment on what effect the government shutdown has had on the agency on Spirit Lake.

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