Indian Affairs | Division of Human Services

Division of Human Services

Mission Statement

To promote the safety, financial security and social health of Indian communities and individual Indian people.

Under the mission area of Serving Communities, the Human Services Program supports the Department’s Strategic Goal to Advance Quality Communities for Tribes and Alaska Natives by improving welfare systems for Indian Tribes and Alaska Natives. Human Services consists of direct funding and activities related to social services, welfare assistance, Indian child welfare, and program oversight. The objective of this activity is to improve the quality of life for individual Indians that live on or near Indian reservations and to protect the children, elderly and disabled from abuse and neglect. The activity also provides child abuse and neglect services and protective services to Individual Indian Monies (IIM) supervised account holders who are minors, adults in need of assistance, adults under legal disability, and adults found to be non compos mentis.

The Social Services program supports Bureau Agency staff and over 900 tribal staff that have been hired by contracting tribes to run their programs. These staff provide counseling services to local on-reservation eligible Indians as well as coordinate all Human Services activities at the Tribe and Agency level. The social workers work with tribal courts, state courts, and Indian families for the placement and adoption of Indian children in Indian homes. The social workers serve as the contact point for numerous social service agencies that are responsible for child protection, placement, and adoption of Indian children.

This program also supports the Department’s Strategic Goal to Fulfill Indian Fiduciary Trust Responsibilities by providing for the management of IIM accounts for minors, adults in need of assistance, adults under legal disability, and adults found to be non compos mentis. The staff works with families and guardians in the development of distribution plans, and completes assessments and evaluations in support of these plans. The outcome of these actions results in accurate payments from trust accounts. Staff monitor the distribution plans to ensure that expenditure of funds are made in accordance with the plans and that appropriate supportive documents are maintained in the case files.

Division Chief for the Division of Human Services

In September 2008, Ms. Sue Vaughan Settles became the Division Chief for the Division of Human Services. Ms. Settles, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is a true Oklahoman, born and raised in Sallisaw, OK and received both, her Bachelor and Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma. Ms. Settle is a member of the School of Social Work Board of Visitors and continues to hold a social worker license from the State of Oklahoma.

Ms. Settles initially began her career with the BIA in 1987 as the General Assistance Specialist, eventually being promoted to the Supervisory Social Worker for Child and Family Services. She continued her social work career serving as an instructor at Humbolt State University in Arcata, CA and the University Of Oklahoma, School Of Social Work in Norman, OK before serving as the Oklahoma Commissioner of Health's representative to the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, where she resigned her position as chair upon returning to the BIA.

Ms. Settles provides the BIA with an extensive professional social work career that includes experience working on the tribal, county, state, federal, and academic levels. With Ms. Settles on board, the BIA has gained a Division Chief with a wide range of professional experience and knowledge that will create further confidence in the Human Services programs and the people the program services.