To effectively engage Native American clients and communities, child welfare professionals must be aware of their recent history, which includes violence, displacement, and forced assimilation. The formal role the government played in some of these events occurred recently enough that many living relatives of the families we work with experienced them directly. Understandably, this has led to intergenerational trauma and distrust of State and Federal Governments. In this section, find resources to help child welfare professionals build an understanding of key topics related to Tribal child welfare, including the history of policies and practices that harmed and led to historical and intergenerational trauma for Native families in this country, Tribal sovereignty, and how States can work in partnership with Tribes on various child welfare issues.
In most cases, Tribes run their own child welfare systems. Tribal child welfare systems may be fully funded by the Tribe, receive direct Federal support, partner with States for funding, or some combination of these.
With these resources, professionals who are new to working with Native American and Alaska Native families will gain a better understanding of the impact of intergenerational trauma, the Federal laws designed to protect Native families, and how to work in partnership with Tribes to help support children, youth, and families.
- Understanding the impact of intergenerational trauma
- American Indian resilience: culture as a protective factor
- Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
- Sovereignty, jurisdiction, and Tribal court considerations
- Supporting health and well-being
- Supporting American Indian and Alaska Native youth
American Indian Tribal Directory
Lists federally recognized Tribes.
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Partners with Tribes to help guide them in maintaining the responsibilities of the government-to-government relationship.
For Families and Service Providers
National Indian Child Welfare Association
Provides resources to families and professionals seeking information on how to provide support and care to Native children.
Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Works to build the relationship between the Wabanaki Tribes and Maine child welfare by listening to the stories of the Wabanaki people and providing suggestions for how to reach reconciliation or understanding. The website presents information on the commission's history and background, media materials, links to resources, and more.
National Indian Child Welfare Association
Addresses child abuse and neglect in Tribal communities and works collaboratively with Tribal and urban Indian child welfare programs to implement culturally competent, community-based programs.
Tribal Information Exchange of the Capacity Building Center for Tribes
Focuses on preparing child welfare professionals to more effectively engage Tribal families by providing tools for Tribal families within their community.
Trauma-Informed Practice With American Indian/Alaska Native Populations (PDF - 330 KB)
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2020)
Describes how to develop a trauma-informed lens for working with American Indian/Alaska Native individuals, families, and communities using the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Concept of Trauma.
Tribal Child Welfare Information Exchange of the Capacity Building Center for Tribes
Assists federally funded Tribal child welfare agencies to deliver tools and resources, such as information on organizational systems and staff capacity. With this support, Tribal communities' unique needs can be met.
Tribal Courts and Child Welfare Podcast Series
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2019)
- Episode 31: Tribal Courts and Child Welfare: Adapting to Child Welfare Cases
- Episode 33: Tribal Courts and Child Welfare: Revising Your Children's Code
- Episode 34: Tribal Courts and Child Welfare: Partnering With Tribal Social Services
- Episode 37: Tribal Courts and Child Welfare: Building Relationships With State Counterparts
- Episode 38: Tribal Courts and Child Welfare: Overcoming Challenges to Working With States
Tribal Nations and the United States: An Introduction (PDF - 28,035 KB)
National Congress of American Indians (2019)
Includes an overview of the history and underlying principles of Tribal governance to help decision-makers and members of the public understand and engage effectively with contemporary Indian Nations.
Works to build the relationship between the Wabanaki Tribes and Maine child welfare by listening to the stories of the Wabanaki people and providing suggestions for how to reach reconciliation or understanding. The website presents information on the Commission's history and background, media materials, links to resources, and more.