• May 2002
  • Vol. 3, No. 4

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NICWA Working to Improve Permanency Outcomes for Tribal Children

In the past two years the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) has been joined by the Child Welfare League of America, the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning, Casey Family Programs, and The Packard Foundation to conduct a series of Strategic Action Forums with the theme, "Permanency Planning and American Indian Families." These forums are specifically designed for tribal child welfare programs and State Indian child welfare specialists.

Members for 8-10 tribal teams are recruited from each tribe in a State or region and are selected via an application process. Each team consists of six representatives including the child welfare directors of each tribe, a tribal leader, a tribal court representative, a parent or foster parent, and a local public child welfare contact person. In addition, key State child welfare administrators and State Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) specialists participate.

The forums provide hands-on assistance to the tribes and States as they work to implement the safety and permanency provisions of the Adoptions and Safe Families Act (ASFA) while successfully meeting the mandates of ICWA. The forums are designed to build a consensus on the meaning of permanency in the context of American Indian culture and to examine ICWA as a permanency policy.

During each forum, teams work cooperatively to analyze and respond to policy issues. Participants examine the history of modern child welfare policy and consider ASFA's provisions from the perspective of Indian culture. Teams also model family group decision-making as they develop action plans for their communities. Teams also are briefed on resources available from the Administration for Children and Families, the federally funded National Resource Centers focused on child welfare, and NICWA.

To date, NICWA has conducted five forums with 47 tribal teams representing seven States. Two more are planned for the fall of 2002. For more information on these forums please contact Mary Mc Nevins at 503-222-4044 or visit the website at http://www.nicwa.org.

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