Episode 39: Tribal Courts and Child Welfare: Being Family Centered
Many Tribal courts are responsible for protecting the safety, health, and well-being of Tribal children and families. In addition to those responsibilities—which are also held by State, county, and Federal courts—some Tribal courts may also be responsible for recognizing Tribal customs and traditions regarding child rearing and preserving and strengthening children’s cultural and ethnic identity, where possible. This impacts how Tribal courts partner with child welfare departments to support family reunification and strengthen a family’s connection to their Tribe and its culture.
This episode, 'Being Family Centered,' is part of a series featuring the work of Tribal Court Improvement Program grantees. Listeners will hear examples of Tribal courts partnering with families and enabling families to shape how they use Tribal child welfare and support services for rehabilitation and reunification. 'Being Family Centered' shares stories from Tribal court and child welfare staff from the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Taos Pueblo of New Mexico, and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.
Some of the topics discussed include the following:
- Incorporating substance use treatment into family reunification efforts
- Using a "pre-adjudicative" process for families to voluntarily access services and potentially avoid court hearings
- Strengthening the connection between children and families through culturally specific Tribal activities
This episode features the following guests:
- Carrie Garrow, chief Tribal court judge, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe
- Stacie Waters, social services and Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) manager, Taos Pueblo of New Mexico
- T. David Eisenberg, chief Tribal court judge, Taos Pueblo of New Mexico
- Jean Swanson, Tribal family caseworker, Sitka Tribe of Alaska
Other Related Resources
- National Indian Child Welfare Association
- Tribal Information Exchange of the Capacity Building Center for Tribes
- Legal Representation in Child Welfare Proceedings (PDF - 262 KB), ABA Center on Children and the Law (2018)