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September 2008Vol. 9, No. 7Culturally Sensitive Social Work Practice With Native Americans

Child welfare training on working with Native Americans has traditionally focused on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and meeting its requirements, that is, "the letter of the law." A new curriculum, The Other Side of ICWA: A Cultural Journey to Fairness and Equity, is intended to address "the spirit of the law" and those concerns missing in traditional training that are essential for successful implementation of ICWA.

Developed by the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC), the training is intended for child welfare social workers, supervisors, managers, contract agency staff, and other professionals such as advocates, attorneys, and judges working with Native American youth and communities. The materials are designed to help participants understand the importance of trust and relationship-building and the effects of the historic and collective trauma on the Native American experience. Class activities are designed to help participants build culturally sensitive communication and needs assessment skills through increased awareness and attention to cultural traditions, values, and support systems.

The curriculum includes a trainer's guide, participant's manual, background material, handouts for class exercises, and a glossary of terms. All materials are available for download on the CalSWEC website.