• May 2015
  • Vol. 16, No. 4

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Trauma-Informed Systems in Indian Country

A recent article in the Journal of Family Strengths discusses a comprehensive framework for the creation of culturally competent trauma-informed systems in Indian Country. American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children are disproportionately represented in child welfare. These children also face a number of particular challenges, such as the effects of historical trauma, high rates of intrafamilial victimization, and longer adoption times than non-Native children. The article describes a concept for trauma-informed systems that focuses on collaboration across Indian child welfare systems and systems such as schools, mental and physical health, juvenile justice/courts, and Tribal councils in order to effectively implement trauma-informed child welfare. Four specific and necessary interventions are highlighted:

  • Research-supported interventions for children and youth, as well as parents and family systems
  • Research-supported secondary traumatic stress (STS) interventions for child welfare professionals
  • Capacity-building systems interventions for child welfare and related systems to systematically and collaboratively detect and address children's trauma and STS in the workforce
  • The prioritization and incorporation of indigenous healing practices as facilitators for culturally-competent practice and also as safeguards against colonialism

The article stresses that, when designing and implementing new trauma-informed systems, it is important that leadership is collaborative, developmental, adaptive, and outcomes oriented. Leaders must have extensive knowledge of their respective AI/AN community's culture and needs, and design teams should include diverse representation from Tribal members.

Read more about the framework, including a sample logic model, in "Conceptualizing a Trauma Informed Child Welfare System for Indian Country," by J. C. Caringi and H. A.Lawson, Journal of Family Strengths, 14(1), 2014, available at http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/jfs/vol14/iss1/10/.

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