Session: Toward a Research and Practice Model for Empowering Child Welfare-Involved Native Families: Moving Beyond Icwa (Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference - Achieving Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice)

67 Toward a Research and Practice Model for Empowering Child Welfare-Involved Native Families: Moving Beyond Icwa

Friday, January 12, 2018: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Independence BR B (ML 4) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Global Indigenous Populations
Claudette Grinnell-Davis, PhD, University of Oklahoma, Melanie Sage, PhD, State University of New York at Buffalo, Bryn King, PhD, University of Toronto and Dallas Pettigrew, MSW, University of Oklahoma
Native youth are overrepresented in the child welfare systems of both the United States and Canada. In ten U.S. states, Native youth represent over 10% of the state's foster care population; five of those states (Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma) have foster care populations where over 30% are Native youth. Similar rates of disproportionality are present in Canada as well. These numbers indicate the ongoing effects of the destruction of Native families through the boarding school system, a deliberate destruction first described in the US in the Meriam Report (1928). While both the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA: 1978) and various Truth and Reconciliation processes in Canada were instituted to ameliorate these effects, these numbers indicate that much process still needs to be made in strengthening Native families. Further, in the United States, ICWA provides at best an incomplete protection for Native families and, combined with limited tribal resources, contributes to numerous logistic and evaluation challenges in practice. This roundtable will focus on the current state of knowledge about Native families involved in the child welfare system, practice and policy implications for prevention and intervention, and research/evaluation concerns at individual, family, and community levels.

As a group of presenters, we represent various academic and community stakeholders dedicated to empowering Native families. Our group includes both Native and non-Native researchers, evaluators, and practitioners, including a former director of tribal social services. We have provided both case management and clinical services to Native children and their families; worked with federal, state, and tribal governments to improve data collection and systems evaluation processes through enhancing the identification of Native children and their families; developed state versions of the Indian Child Welfare Act and fleshed out definitions of such ICWA-related practices as “active efforts” and “qualified expert witness”; and negotiated with governments for service payment. We are all united in our core belief that Native families are inadequately served, and through this roundtable we hope to synthesize what is currently known about Indian child welfare practice and develop a blueprint for moving culturally responsible research and practice forward in a way that recognizes the strengths of Native families and communities and encourages indigenous ways of healing and of practice evaluation.

Topics to be included in this roundtable include the following: 1) The challenges of identifying Native families - and how laws such as ICWA are inadequately carried out and still leave some children and families unprotected 2) How identification of Native families affects national data collection and the subsequent (mis)representation of Native families in national reports. 3) Challenges in linkage between tribal, ICWA and state child welfare systems. 4) The ways in which current research on evidence-based practice neglects culturally-identified Native families and communities, and the need for more culturally appropriate practice-informed interventions 5) Consideration of research and evaluation guidelines such as OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession) principles in Canada and the NCAI Policy Research Center. 6) What US child welfare systems could learn from the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation process.

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