Episode 37: Tribal Courts and Child Welfare: Building Relationships With State Counterparts

Date: May 2019

"Our supervisor and the OCS (Office of Children's Services) supervisor here in Sitka met and said, 'We should really have a courageous conversation and sit everybody down at a table and hash these things out and these stats because we want to work well together'."
-Krista Perala, Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) coordinator, Sitka Tribe of Alaska Social Services Division

When Tribal families are involved in State- or county-based child welfare services or family courts, Tribal social services and judicial systems often have roles to play. Navigating the jurisdictions and services can lead to confusion and miscommunication between agencies, placing stress on their professional relationships. Actions to break barriers and strengthen communication can be difficult to implement but offer the potential to improve outcomes for Tribal families and create more positive working environments.

This episode, 'Building Relationships With State Counterparts', is part of a series featuring the work of Tribal Court Improvement Program grantees. The episode features successful examples from the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, as told by Tribal social service and court leadership.

Some of the topics discussed include the following:

  • What a statewide survey told Alaska's Office of Children's Services about their relationships with Tribes
  • How Tribal social services can be a resource for States to understand ICWA and serve as expert witnesses
  • The benefits of agencies and court officers participating in joint training

This episode features the following guests:

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