Scheduled Tribes Development Department formed during 1975, separating from the erstwhile ‘Harijan Welfare Department’ with Headquarters at Chandranagar in Palakkad District, resting the administrative control with ‘Harijan Welfare Department’. Later the Directorate shifted to Thiruvananthapuram for administrative reasons. The Department completely bifurcated and started functioning as a separate Administrative Unit w.e.f 17-1-1980.
At the time of formation during 1975, there were five Tribal Development Offices at Punalur, Kanjirappally, Thodupuzha, Mannarkkad, Nilambur and Mananthavady. In the case of Attappady, the C.D Block has been designated as Integrated Tribal Development Project Office and all Scheduled Tribes activities are carried out by them.
Further, 4 Integrated Tribal Development Project Offices, Punalur, Idukki, Nilambur and Mananthavady were sanctioned for undertaking Scheduled Tribes activities in Tribal Sub Plan areas during 1980 and full fledged function of these Integrated Tribal Development Project Offices started during 1983-84 onwards.
Further the administrative jurisdiction of each Integrated Tribal Development Project Office and Tribal Development Office has been regulated coterminous with the boundaries of Revenue District except in Wayanad where Integrated Tribal Development Project Office, Kalpetta limited in Vythiri Taluk and two Tribal Development Offices at Mananthavady and Sulthan Bathery as part of a reorganization during 1990-91.
In a later stage Tribal Development Offices, Chalakudy, Palakkad and Adimali were started at various periods and at present there are 7 Integrated Tribal Development Project Offices & 10 Tribal Development Offices.
At the time of formation of Scheduled Tribes Development Department, in the field level, there were 28 Tribal Extension Officers and 6 Special Welfare Officers at grass root level. Again 12 additional posts of Tribal Extension Officers were sanctioned during 1982 and another 5 Tribal Extension Officers during 2015-16.
The department is headed by an IAS officer as Director. He is assisted by a Joint Director, two Deputy Directors, two Assistant Directors, a Senior Administrative Officer, a Senior Finance Officer, and a Planning Officer in the directorate. There are 17 district level officers but their jurisdictions are not strictly based on the Revenue districts. There are three district level officers in Wayanad district and two in Palakkad district. Alappuzha does not have a district level officer. The district level officers constitute two categories, namely Tribal Development Officers (TDO), in the cadre of Assistant Directors and Integrated Tribal Development Project Officers (PO) in the rank of Deputy Directors. Under each Tribal Development Officers/ Project Officers, there are Tribal Extension Officers (TEO) at the cutting edge level. There are 1118 Tribal Promoters recruited annually who work in colonies as a link between department and ST Families.