America’s Promise Alliance recognizes NPR for report on Native foster care

By Mike Janssen

The America’s Promise Alliance gave its 2012 Journalism Award for Action to NPR for Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families, an October 2011 series reported by Laura Sullivan and produced by Amy Walters.

The October 2011 series, the result of a yearlong investigation, revealed how the state of South Dakota was failing to follow laws that specify how Native children should be put in foster care. It prompted a federal investigation and a resolution from the National Congress of American Indians.

The Alliance’s annual awards recognize the efforts of journalists working to raise awareness about the needs of young people and those who inspire communities to act on behalf of youth. Recipients are chosen from the winners of the 2012 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism, which are presented by the Journalism Center on Children & Families.

NPR’s reporting prompted a preemptive strike from the office of South Dakota’s governor, Sullivan said at an awards dinner in Washington, D.C., Oct. 18 as she accepted the Casey Medal. The office issued a press release before the stories aired accusing NPR of liberal bias. That was disheartening, Sullivan said, but the award encouraged her by validating the importance of such work.

“It gets exhausting, and it’s hard to do it over and over again,” she said. Yet she said NPR will air another story in a few weeks that ran into similar opposition.

The Action Award honors stories that prompt changes in communities. Winners receive a $5,000 honorarium. Read the full press release from America’s Promise.

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