Groups and Agencies

Groups and governmental agencies that work on Indian child welfare and related issues.

California Tribal Families Coalition Establishes “The California ICWA Institute” Think Tank

On the heels of oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), an organization comprised of a coalition of California tribes on Nov. 21 announced its creation of a think tank to advance and defend protections for Native children.

The California ICWA Institute—a new project under The California Tribal Families Coalition— will bring together tribal leaders and policymakers to craft legal and political strategies in defense of Native American youth and tribal sovereignty under attack.

Read the full article at Native News Online.

Oversight Panel for Oregon’s Troubled Child Welfare System Will Bring Expertise, Diverse Specialties

But a week ago, citing a “crisis” in child welfare, Brown called for creation of the advisory board and other steps to give her more direct control of the agency with an aim of getting it to improve and to do so quickly. She issued an executive order to put her wishes into effect.

The new oversight board will meet at least every other week to decide what the child welfare agency should do. Brown also will install an on-site crisis management team to ensure Pakseresht and Child Welfare Director Marilyn Jones implement the board’s recommendations. The governor will also embed one of her senior advisers at the child welfare agency to oversee the work, her order says.

Read more about the panel, which includes National Indian Child Welfare Association Executive Director Sarah Kastelic, at The Oregonian website.

Announcing the First Comprehensive Study on Child Removal in Native Communities

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, First Nations Repatriation Institute, and the University of Minnesota are pleased to announce the launch of our study: Child Removal in Native Communities. This is an anonymous survey about American Indian and Alaskan Native experiences and impacts of child removal to #BreakTheSilence and #BeginTheHealing.

If you are a boarding school survivor, have boarding school history in your family, or have you ever been adopted or placed in foster care, we need your help! You can take the survey now at:

Read the full announcement at the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition website.

Trump Administration Forms Presidential Task Force for Protecting Native Children in IHS

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced the formation of the Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native American Children in the Indian Health Service System.
A senior administration official hosted a White House conference call, and released statements to the media which outlined that President Trump has “charged the task force with investigating the institutional and systemic breakdown that failed to prevent a predatory pediatrician from sexually assaulting children while acting in his capacity as a doctor in the Indian Health Service.”

Read the full article at the Indian Country Today website.

Read related media coverage:

White House announces Presidential Task Force. KBJR6 website.

After doctor abused children on reservation, task force will investigate Indian Health Service. Associated Press.

For the Children: Oklahoma Inter-tribal Task Force Tackles Policy Solutions

On December 14th, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) hosted its first Indian Child Welfare Task Force meeting. This gathering brought together inter-tribal and state agencies with a focus on respecting the government-to-government relationship the State of Oklahoma has with each of the 38 federally recognized tribal nations headquartered in our state.

Read the full article at the Oklahoma Welcome website.

Indian Child Welfare Court in Duluth Aims for Better Outcomes for Native American Families

Two years ago, Tarnowski attended a training in Duluth given by the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues. Stories of historical trauma that have helped lead to that disparity, and also what led to the creation of the Indian Child Welfare Act, were shared, Tarnowski said, creating “a little fire in my belly.”

“I wanted to try something new,” she said.

With the help of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies, she formed a group of area public and tribal child welfare workers, from reservations ranging from Grand Portage to White Earth, to meet regularly over lunch. That group helped inform the new court. It also has helped build stronger relationships and understanding between everyone involved, said Brenda “Bree” Bussey, project director of the UMD Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies.

Read the full article at the Duluth News Tribune website.

State Pledges $400,000 to Reduce Number of Indian Children in Foster Care (MN)

With the number of American Indian children in Minnesota foster care reaching “unacceptable” levels, the state pledged Thursday to spend $400,000 over the next three years to reduce those numbers.

The announcement comes after a Star Tribune report found that Minnesota has more Indian children in foster care than any other state, including those with significantly larger Indian populations. Less than 2 percent of children in Minnesota are Indian, but they make up nearly a quarter of the state’s foster care population — a disparity that is more than double the next-highest state.

Read the full article at the Star Tribune website.

Information about the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System

The Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) final rule was published in the Federal Register on June 2, 2016. The CCWIS final rule replaces the Statewide/Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS/TACWIS) requirements to address changes in child welfare practice and advances in information technology that have occurred since the regulations were published in 1993.

Get more information on What’s New in Laws and Policies from the Children’s Bureau website.

UMD Leads American Indian Child Welfare Act Project (MN)

UMD’s Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies, which is part of the Department of Social Work, will serve as the grant’s lead organization and will work with six other organizations including courts, child welfare agencies, and tribes, to determine the most successful methods to help children and families.

Read the full announcement at the Business North website.

Report: States’ Consultation and Collaboration with Tribes and Reported Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act


The Children’s Bureau conducted a review of the states’ 2015–2019 Child and Family Services Plans (CFSP) and prepared a report titled “States’ Consultation and Collaboration with Tribes and Reported Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act: Information from States’ and Tribes’ 2015–2019 Child and Family Services Plans.”  This report was prepared in response to a request made by the Health and Human Services Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC) for additional data regarding state consultation with tribes and implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).  The report summarizes information related to state implementation of ICWA, and consultation and collaboration with tribes. The report also includes information reported in a sample of tribes’ CFSPs pertaining to ways in which states consulted and collaborated with tribes.

Download and view complete report here.

UA Researchers Release New Findings in Tribal Child Welfare Study

The Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona and the National Indian Child Welfare Association have released a report detailing the second part of a study on tribal welfare codes designed to protect children and youth….

Based on the study’s findings, the team affirms that:

·      To help protect children from abuse and neglect, 70 percent of the tribal codes make specific requirements for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect.

·      To ensure paternal rights and responsibilities, 60 percent of tribal codes create processes for establishing or acknowledging paternity.

·      Whereas the Indian Child Welfare Act acknowledges that tribes may take jurisdiction over their children, 61 percent of tribal codes assert explicit jurisdiction over tribal citizen children on and off the reservation.

Read the full article about the study at the Native Times website.

Download the reports:

Part I:

Part II:

Study Outlines How Poverty, Schools, and Absenteeism Affect Oregon’s Tribal Students

“The Condition of Education for Members of Oregon’s Indian Tribes” was a study completed by ECONorthwest and the Chalkboard Project. The Spirit Mountain Community Fund paid for the study, which looked at students enrolled in seven of Oregon’s federally recognized tribes, including the Klamath Tribes.

Read more about the report at the Herald and News website.

Read the report at The Chalkboard Project website.

Tribal Program Spotlight: The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan Head Start Center

Toward that end, the LTBB Head Start Center employs a language teacher to teach children and staff their Native language of Anishinaabemowin.  Sometimes the kids are so excited that they go home and teach their parents, a practice that has resulted in the center receiving calls from parents inquiring about the meaning of common words.

In addition, each year LTTB Head Start plans a trip to the tribal government building where the children sing to the elders. Tribal ceremonies are also held and traditional holidays are observed with families and the community.  Parents, elders and Head Start staff have even made traditional regalia for each child to use during pow-wows and the local parade that celebrates tribal sovereignty.

Tribal, State, and Federal Courts Met to Expand Collaboration on Child Welfare Issues (Michigan)

The Michigan Tribal State Federal Judicial Forum convened October 27-28 in Petoskey to review and adopt its charter and address the importance of judicial leadership in child welfare issues. The Forum was created by Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order in June and is the first entity of its kind to meet since the previous Tribal State Court Forum was created in 1992.

Read more at the Flint Genesee County Legal News website.

Inaugural Tribal-State Court Forum Addresses Child Welfare Issues

The Michigan Tribal State Federal Judicial Forum, which was created this year and held its first meeting in Petoskey this week, provides an ongoing venue for all three jurisdictions to convene and improve working relations and communications. A priority for the Forum is addressing child welfare issues, and ensuring that our courts systems are meeting the needs of Native children and families in a way that’s culturally sensitive and appropriate in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA).

Read the full column by Justice Michael Cavanagh at the MLive Media Group website.

Seminole Tribe of Florida Looking for a Superintendent of Education (6/2/2014)

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is currently accepting applications for a Superintendent of Education.

The person in this position will be responsible for the overall leadership, development, organization, management, operation, and implementation of Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Educational programs across departments including the Ahfachkee School, Ahfachkee Traditional Preservation, Pemayetv Emakakv Charter School, Brighton Charter Cultural Program, and the Preschool Program.

Read a full job description at Indian Country Today Media Network website and apply at the tribe’s website.  (Job was posted 6/2/2014.)

Nonprofit Will Oversee Community Programs at Laguna Pueblo

Pueblo of Laguna, New MexicoLaguna Pueblo’s community programs, ranging from early childhood programs to assistance to military veterans, are now under the umbrella of the newly created Laguna Community Foundation, a nonprofit that will oversee their funding and provide needed guidance.

“We decided to bring all of our programs under one entity rather than have them split up,” said foundation Executive Director Gilbert Sanchez. “This will help the pueblo align those programs, and so far, it’s working pretty good.”

Read more about the new program at the Albuquerque Journal website.

Letter from Chase Iron Eyes: S.D. Foster Facilities are the New Indian Boarding Schools

The state of South Dakota has forcibly removed our Lakota children from their tribes for 150 years. The Indian Child Welfare Act continues to be violated daily. Lakota leaders agree on the best permanent solution to this crisis: a Lakota-run foster care and family service system. I am writing here today to urgently request that you watch our new video and support us in our campaign to bring the Lakota children home.

See the letter from Chase Iron Eyes and a fundraising video at the Daily Kos website.

Lakota People Law Project logo

Job Announcement: Senior Director of Indian Child Welfare Consulting

Casey Family Programs - Indian Child Welfare ProgramsCasey Family Programs has posted the position of Senior Director Indian Child Welfare. Learn more and apply at

Casey Family Programs, an Equal Opportunity Employer, is a national operating foundation that provides and improves – and ultimately prevents the need for – foster care. We value a diverse and culturally competent workplace.

Job Summary:  The Senior Director of Indian Child Welfare Consulting is a national expert providing leadership to Casey, Tribes, and States regarding child welfare systems for Indian Child Welfare programs.

Essential Responsibilities: 

Works closely with Systems Improvement, Child and Family Services, Outcome Quality Improvement, and other Casey work units to ensure alignment and continuous quality improvement on practice and outcomes from ICWP.

Leads operations within the Indian Child Welfare Programs (ICWP) work unit and oversees the work unit budget, ongoing projects, and the coordination with Casey Family Programs (CFP) Systems Improvement.

Oversees the design, development, implementation and evaluation of tribal transformation, and identification and support of best Indian  child welfare practices.  Responsibilities include ensuring compliance with legal, financial and Casey’s strategic objectives and state plans; and ensuring that the Indian Child Welfare Consulting staff works positively and effectively with all staff internal to Casey aswell as external contacts.

Directs the transformation and urban Indian center work efforts on behalf of the Casey. Identifies partners, communities, and resources for the successful transformation of the Casey field offices and development of a tribal child welfare system in each identified location.  Develops plans for ongoing maintenance and improvement of systems once established.

Identify, promote and disseminate practice models, methodologies and tools that may improve public child welfare and AI/AN child outcomes.

Understand and articulate Casey’s 2020 goals to staff and all other audiences with a vested interest in the prevention and safe reduction of youth is foster care.

Minnesota Report Focuses on Programs that Work for Indian Students

At 45.5 percent, Minnesota has the lowest on-time high-school graduation rate for its Native American students of any state in the country. Though acknowledging that hard truth, a new report by the Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now (MinnCAN) reflects hope.

Read more at the Twin Cities Daily Planet website.

Related stories:

ABA Approves Resolution on Indian Child Welfare Act

On August 12, 2013, the American Bar Association House of Delegates approved a resolution supporting full implementation of, and compliance with, the Indian Child Welfare Act. There was not dissenting report or speaker.

You can see the resolution and the accompanying report at the ABA Now website.

Resolution in Support of Tribal Courts from National Association for Court Management


On July 14, 2011 the National Association for Court Management (NACM) passed a resolution resolution demonstrating their commitment to ICWA.

Excerpt from the resolution – “…NACM is committed to engaging tribal court managers as full partners in fulfilling the mission of NACM and in meeting the needs of all children and families served by the state and tribal courts…” 

ICWA Resource Page (California Courts)

The Tribal/State Programs Unit of the Center for Families Children and the California Courts have created a webpage to assist those involved in Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) proceedings.  The page can help them understand their legal obligations under ICWA and comply with those requirements.

Subjects covered include ICWA job aids; law, rules & regulations; expert witnesses; education; directory of California services; and tribal customary adoption.

Visit the the California Courts website to learn more.

Screenshot from California Courts website

Justice Dept Honors Healing Arts Program for Tribal Sexual Assault Victims

According to a press release from the Department of Justice:

The Department of Justice honored the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation’s
Tribal Victim Services program for creating a healing arts program
for sexual assault victims. Attorney General Eric Holder presented the program with an award during the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

The tribe developed a program to encourage cultural healing through art to assist tribal crime victims in sharing their experiences, thoughts
and fears. They created an artistic “tree” for healing called the Community Story Tree Project, which consists of 72 canvas panels representing the community’s hopes and dreams for tribal families, survivors, children, service providers, professional elders and tribal leaders.

Program: Tribal STAR (Successful Transitions for Adult Readiness)

Tribal Star logoTribal STAR (Successful Transitions for Adult Readiness) is a program of the San Diego State University School of Social Work, Academy for Professional Excellence. It’s mission is to ensure Tribal foster youth are connected to culture, community and resources. The program does this by providing training and technical assistance to tribes, tribal programs, county social workers, and others working with Tribal foster youth. Resources include:

  • technical assistance to agencies to encourage collaboration and community engagement;
  • technical assistance to tribes to better understand local resources;
  • a bi-monthly newsletter – Tribal Star Drumbeats – that includes events and trainings, funding opportunities, legislation, promising practices and more;
  • community forums in Southern California;
  • materials about customary adoption;
  • trainings and curriculum; and
  • other publications and outreach materials.

Trainings include:

  • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
    The revised ICWA training “ICWA: In The Best Interest of the Child: Where The Spirit Leads” is intended to provide today’s social workers with a foundation of knowledge of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
  • Summit
    The Summit provides an overview of Native American culture, history, and distrust of government systems and services. The training include first-hand accounts of Tribal youth experiences receiving CWS services. Participants engage in collaborative brainstorming to support goals and objectives.The training allows organizations to focus on specific challenges and identify solutions.
  • Other Side of ICWA
    The Other Side of ICWA is intended to address “the spirit of the law” and those concerns missing in traditional training that are essential for successful implementation of ICWA.
  • Gathering
    The Gathering provides an overview of Native American culture, history, and distrust of government systems and services. The training reviews the unique issues that affect adolescent development of Tribal youth. Participants engage in collaborative brainstorming. The Gathering provides first hand accounts of Tribal youth who have experienced receiving CWS services and basic communication techniques that support more trusting relations with Tribal youth and families.The training allows organizations to focus on specific challenges and identify solutions.
  • Collaborative
    The Collaborative is an adapted half-day training designed to introduce Tribal and non- tribal child welfare workers to the challenges of serving Tribal foster youth. It covers a brief historical overview and concludes with recommendations that support increased communication and collaboration among providers that strive to achieve positive outcomes for Tribal youth.
  • Training-for-Trainers
    Training for Trainers focus on skill building to lead cross-cultural discussions that result in positive outcomes. The training also helps participants learn how to conduct Tribal STAR training in their area. Topics covered in the training include cross-cultural communication, cultivating and maintaining trust-based relationships, and understanding how history affects today’s relationships between CWS and Tribal programs.


Alaska Child Welfare Disproportionality Reduction Project

A collaboration between the National Indian Child Welfare Assocation the Western and Pacific Implementation Center (WPIC), and the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and other tribes, this project addresses the systemic issues that exist in tribal child welfare between the State of Alaska and Alaska Native Tribes.  The four year initiative is designed to significantly reduce the disproportionate out-of-home placement of Alaska Native children by the state child welfare system.

Western and Pacific Child Welfare Implementation Center logo

According to the WPIC website, the project provides training, technical assistance and consultation to support the following initiatives:

  • Enhance Tribal capacity to provide in home services through on-site technical assistance. This included dialogue, problem solving, brainstorming, and product development with the AK tribal child welfare programs in the five regions of Alaska. The development of the Tribal In-Home Services Planning Template in each region, helped identify gaps and barriers in services to Alaska Native families and children. In addition, the template also assessed strategies for enhancing supports to ensure children and youth can remain safely in their homes.
  • Integrate Tribal values and principles into the Alaska Safety Assessment model.
  • Develop and implement of protocols for monitoring referrals to Tribal in-home services by the Alaska Office of Children’s Services (OCS).
  • Enhance tribal capacity to license resource families by creating and implementing Tribal licensing standards and procedures.
  • Conducting peer-to-peer training activities on cultural best practice for foster care licensing.
  • Increase Tribal child welfare capacity to work effectively with the courts by implementing trainings on court proceedings, presenting a case, acting as a witness, and writing court reports. An ongoing coaching approach was developed to continue to monitor and enhance court skills of Tribal child welfare staff.
  • Enhance the capacity for effective Tribal-State relations by building communication and problem solving skills through courageous conversations and ensuring there is ongoing dialogue and capacity for problem solving in ongoing working relationships.

Learn more at

NICWA Job Postings

National Child Welfare AssociationSee current job opening at the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) at

In addition to current open positions, you can find information about the internship opportunities that NICWA has available.  NICWA accepts applications for volunteers or interns to work throughout the organization including membership relations, library science, media/communications, and event planning.  Find more information about internships at


About The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)

From their website at :

NICWA is a private, non-profit, membership organization based in Portland, Oregon. Our members include tribes, individuals—both Indian and non-Indian—and private organizations from around the United States concerned with American Indian child and family issues.

NICWA works to address the issues of child abuse and neglect through training, research, public policy, and grassroots community development. NICWA also works to support compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), which seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families.

NICWA improves the lives of American Indian children and families by helping tribes and other service providers implement services that are culturally competent, community-based, and focused on the strengths and assets of families. This work includes collaborating with tribal and urban Indian child welfare programs to increase their service capacity, enhancing tribal-state relationships, and providing training, technical assistance, information services and alliance building.