HomeLatest NewsCelebrating Wo'okiye Team Successes from September '23 through February '24

Celebrating Wo’okiye Team Successes from September ’23 through February ’24

The Wo’okiye Team took over Carnegie Hall on Tuesday night to update the City Council on their successes since fully executing a city contract awarded to the South Dakota Urban Indian Health street outreach team in August. The partnership announcement between SDUIH and the City that came over the summer provides funding to the team to address the unhoused community in Sioux Falls as recommended by the City’s Homelessness Task Force. Building relationships, addressing gaps in current services, and collecting data to monitor trends have been the focus.

Since many of the individuals experiencing homelessness are Native, Wo’okiye is fulfilling the request of the Task Force, in addition to providing culturally sensitive wraparound services to unhoused relatives grounded in Indigenous values. It is important to note that Wo’okiye’s services are not limited to only Native individuals. Our services extend to all those experiencing homelessness.

Upon executing the contract in early August, contracted Wo’okiye staff were hired and trained throughout September. From September to February, the team completed roughly 1,280 hours of outreach.

A few highlights from September to the end of February include,

  • Integration into the Helpline Center of Network Care
  • Housing placement facilitation
  • Assistance in obtaining IDs (a crucial step toward employment)
  • Reuniting relatives with their families
  • Coordination of medical appointments
  • Enrollment of relatives in mental health counseling
  • Enrollment of relatives into substance use disorder counseling
  • Facilitation of chemical dependency assessments
  • Securing employment opportunities for relatives

While the impact of Wo’okiye has been positive, the team has gained insight into the complexities of working with unhoused individuals, notably the process of securing housing. For one couple, it took nearly four months to get into housing, which only emphasizes the chronic challenges inherent in the journey toward stability.

The team has also found it can take several, if not dozens, contacts with a relative before they are open to accepting help. Recognizing the need to foster trust, Wo’okiye remains committed to supporting individuals at every stage of their journey toward positive change without judgment. Through this non-judgmental approach, the team recognizes if and when the relative is ready to start their healing journey, they know Wo’okiye will be ready to help.

An eye-opening discovery for the team is recognizing the barriers to getting housing and jobs for our relatives. The processes can be next to impossible without help, which Wo’okiye case managers and other staff are helping to facilitate. From acquiring important documents like IDs and birth certificates to assisting with house applications, the team’s efforts are helping to create effective change within the community.

As Wo’okiye continues to navigate a better community for all, they remain committed to creating positive change through Indigenous values to create a brighter future for the Sioux Falls community.

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