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July 2012Vol. 13, No. 6Tribal Symposium on Differential Response

The Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response (QIC-DR) released a summary of the Tribal Symposium on Differential Response held in August and September 2011 that brought together representatives from seven Tribes, various government agencies, and other national nonprofit organizations to share information on differential response (DR). DR, sometimes called alternative response, refers to the use of a tailored response for families reported for child maltreatment and is most often used when there is a determination of low risk or when the family might not otherwise qualify for services.

The Tribal Symposium offered Tribes, policymakers, and other stakeholders the opportunity to share information about DR, lessons learned about implementing and practicing DR in Indian Country, and discuss elements of successful implementation. The report provides background information on each Tribe's culture, child protective services information, implementation activities and, when possible, data collection. The following Tribes attended and presented at the meetings:

  • The Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, MT
  • The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, OR
  • Crow Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, MT
  • Fort Peck Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, MT
  • Northern Cheyenne Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, MT
  • The Osage Nation, OK
  • The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, NY

The report is primarily centered on trends, themes, and differences in Tribal DR practice. A number of themes emerged, including the following:

  • Role of Culture. Tribes discussed the different ways they incorporate their culture in DR or making DR more culturally competent. Examples included informing elders and other Tribal members of DR and gaining their input on implementation, using parenting time as an opportunity to share Tribal traditions, and using the clan system to engage extended family.
  • Relationship building. Because DR is focused on engagement, Tribal representatives discussed how DR can strengthen families by enhancing trust. Removal as a last resort was a common element among all programs regardless of cultural implementation.
  • Altering Approaches. Tribes discussed the different ways they altered approaches to implementation to better meet the needs of their communities. Changes in language, service duration, and decision-making were among some of the alterations discussed.
  • Working Differently With Law Enforcement and Judicial Communities. Tribes discussed the various ways they engaged law enforcement and the courts in DR practice and approaches.  
  • Stages When Families Are Approached and Engaged. Participants discussed varied approaches and processes regarding when families were approached and engaged and the duration of services.

Summary of the Tribal Symposium on Differential Response is available on the QIC-DR website:  (8 MB)