County designates special social workers for Native American child welfare cases

"This is outrageous, the abuse of power must stop now," said, Rusty Page, the foster father of a 6-year-old part Native American girl named Lexi.

The Page family has spoken out agains the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law they beleive is the reason the girl was taken from their Santa Clarita home on Monday afternoon.

"Our daughter is just one of many victims of the Indian Child Welfare Act," Page said.

The law, which was established in 1978, to keep Native American children with their families comes into play quite often in the child welfare system.

The Los Angeles County Department of Family Services even has a special unit to handle the cases.

"There is a need for this unit to ensure that children are connected with their tribal heritage," DCFS Supervisor of the American Indian Unit, Robert Rodriguez, said.

Rodriguez said 120 children in the county's foster care system fall under these protections.

He couldn't speak directly to Lexi's case, but said, each child is assigned a county social worker and a tribal social worker.

Lexi is only 1.5 percent Choctaw Indian leading many to criticize tribal involvement with such a small percentage of Native American Heritage.

"Membership is determined by tribes," Rodriguez said in defense of the law. "Counties don't determine that and judges don't determine that."

The Choctaw Nation said its been advocating for Lexi to live with her relatives in Utah near her biological sisters for the last four years.

According to the tribe, the Page family has blocked reunification efforts at least three times in court.

The Page family said they've been trying to adopt the girl since she was two years old.

The Department of Family Services believes it's always preferable to place a child with relatives rather than foster parents.

"I think if you did not have a tribe involved in a case we would be limiting ourselves to potential relatives and potential family that our resources here in our county wouldn't be able to come up with," Rodriguez said.

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