CILS Board Chair Rachel Joseph and Vice-Chair Mark Romero (Chairman of the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians), participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Youth Regional Treatment Center (YRTC) in Hemet, California, on July 31, 2014. Mark Vezzola, Directing Attorney of CILS’ Escondido office, also attended the event. The ceremony marked the culmination of decades of work and lobbying on the part of local tribal leaders and Native organizations to address the health needs of Native youth.
Tribes and the federal government operate 10 YRTCs across the country. Each center receives funding from the Indian Health Service to address mental health and substance abuse issues facing American Indian and Alaska Native youth in that area. By using culture-based programs and educational activities, YRTCs aims to help young people overcome challenges so they can become community leaders and role models for future generations. Services include clinical evaluations, counseling, group, individual and family psychotherapy, life skills training, medication management and monitoring, relapse prevention, and post treatment follow up.
Chairman Mark Romero, Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians & CILS Board Vice-Chairman
Despite a growing need, there were no YRTCs in the California Area of the Indian Health Service until now. Funding and property have been secured however to build two YRTCs in the state, one in Hemet and another in Yolo County in northern California.
California Indian Legal Services would like to make the following correction to the previous posting regarding the July 8, 2014 hearing before the Second District of the California Court of Appeal in the In the Matter of A.P.. The placement of A.P. ordered by the lower court was with A.P.’s non-Indian extended family member. We apologize for an confusion regarding this issue.
On July 8, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. the Second District of the California Court of Appeal will hear oral argument In the Matter of A.P., a dependency case involving a child who is a member of the Choctaw Nation. The narrow issue before the court is whether the lower court erred in following the placement provisions under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and accompanying California law implementing the ICWA. The lower court placed A.P. with her extended Indian family over the objection of the de facto parents, who are A.P.’s foster parents. The broader issues raised by the foster parents are: (1) ICWA does not apply because A.P. was never in the physical custody of her Indian father and thus A.P. was not removed from an “Indian family”; and (2) the ICWA is unconstitutional.
The arguments advanced by the foster parents have been rejected by the California courts and legislature but are being resurrected in the hope that the recent United States Supreme Court case Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl has breathed new life into them. The foster parents' legal team includes many of the attorneys involved in the Baby Girl case and are using the same arguments here in California to advocate for limiting the application of the ICWA and, if possible, having the ICWA declared unconstitutional.
CILS encourages tribes and tribal community members to show their support for the preservation of the ICWA in California and attend the July 8th hearing if possible. The hearing will be held at:
300 South Spring Street, 3rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA (Ronald Reagan Building)
Once again, CILS together with NARF and the ACLU of Northern California successfully advocated for eight Native American students to wear eagle feathers during their high school graduation ceremony. Eagle feathers are gifted to graduates in honor of their personal achievement and to mark an important transition. CILS is proud of all Native American graduates this graduation season!