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December/January 2024Vol. 24, No. 10Lessons Learned From the Center for Native Child and Family Resilience

Tribal child welfare programs operate with culturally specific values and standards. Those who interact with these systems and communities must do so using culturally responsive practices, language, and behaviors. The Center for Native Child and Family Resilience (CNCFR) recently created a new web section detailing lessons learned from its work supporting child welfare prevention and intervention practices and strategies designed by and for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. The CNCFR was previously known as the National Quality Improvement Center for Preventive Services and Interventions in Indian Country and was a Children’s Bureau-funded project that ran between 2017 and 2022. As such, it is not technically considered an Indigenous organization, according to the introduction to the lessons learned web section. 

Therefore, the lessons describe efforts that contributed to ensuring that a non-Indigenous organization was successful in collaborating with tribal organizations and communities and creating materials for their child welfare programs. The lessons learned are organized into the following three sections, each of which uses written and audio stories to highlight how adjusting practices, behavior, language, and attitudes led to better results:

  • Partnership
  • Information Gathering
  • Evaluation

The Partnership section details how CNCFR staff cultivated genuine, authentic partnerships with tribal organizations and communities. One of those strategies involved participating in a Ribbon Ceremony and sharing information about themselves. Successful relationship building can help bridge intercultural gaps, promote bidirectional learning, and foster a sense of trust.  

Stories in the Information Gathering section build on the importance of developing a foundation of trust. They feature anecdotes about being present, being prepared to “fail forward” (learn from mistakes and improve after missteps), and valuing the role of empathy and trust in communication.

The Evaluation section of the lessons learned is coming soon. Learn more and explore these valuable lessons and anecdotes on the CNCFR website.