Health & Education

Service Coordination Team formed to aid Tribal members

06.27.2012 Dean Rhodes Health & Wellness, Housing

When Tribal members need a service, it is important to know what resources are available and to be able to access the correct services quickly. The experience can be new, overwhelming and time-consuming.

A new Tribal program hopes to improve the process for Tribal members and their families in need of virtually any of the services the Tribe provides.

More than a year ago, four Tribal departments joined forces and began the work of forming a Service Coordination Team. The core of the team includes Social Services, Education, Behavioral Health and Housing.

"The SCT is the next step in the evolution of Tribal programs and services and promises to create opportunities for members seeking services from multiple Tribal programs," said Health Services Executive Director Mark Johnston.

The separate services can be brought together in a crisis situation, but also for Tribal members and their families who have tried to access services in the past, said Indian Child Welfare Supervisor Dana Ainam.

"The idea is that we can get a referral anytime," said Ainam, "and pull a team together as soon as possible, develop a plan and address their needs."

The people around the table will include Tribal staff, but also members of the families needing help, as well as other professionals from the Tribe, state or county who are either already involved or may be able to provide a vital service. The needs of each individual case will dictate who should be involved.

Constraints on privacy issues have been addressed with authorizations to release or share information among departments, though all those receiving the information are bound by confidentiality requirements to keep the information from going beyond the group.

In addition, said Ainam, meetings can be held at meeting rooms in the housing developments to allow for better privacy than may be available on the main Tribal campus.

Families farther afield, out of state, also will have access to the program by phone and e-mail.

"This also is an avenue for people who are not currently working with a program," said Ainam. "It will reduce runaround and allow us to wrap more comprehensive services around each individual."

In meetings over the last year, the departments discussed redundancy in services and processes. This program will centralize functions and assist programs in maximizing resources for Tribal members.

"It's been good for us to do the teamwork," said Deborah Kroeker, Housing Services specialist, and point-person for the team. "Unfortunately, we tend to get tied up in our own stuff. Now, this coordinated effort is on the front burner.

"As we go through this process, we hope that it will improve how services are structured. All of us will be more knowledgeable about how related services function, and what services others provide."

It is a program whose time has come.

Polk County initiated a similar program in recent years, Kroeker said, and the statewide 211 number also recently started providing similar services, as reported in Smoke Signals in the Feb. 1, 2012, issue.

Referral forms are available at all of the involved offices, and cases can be set in motion almost immediately with a call to Kroeker at 503-879-4522 or an e-mail to; or the same to virtually anybody in any of the participating departments. Referral forms will soon be available on the Tribal Web site, too.

"We're excited about this opportunity," said Ainam.