National Child Welfare Association

33rd Annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
April 19-22, 2015 | Portland, Oregon

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Each year, the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) hosts the largest national gathering on American Indian and Alaska Native child advocacy issues. With over 800 attendees, this three-day conference attracts attention across North America, creating a space where participants can learn about the latest information across Indian Country in child welfare.

NICWA is excited to announce that our 33rd Annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect will be taking place in NICWA’s hometown, Portland, Oregon, on April 19–22, 2015. Conference attendees are a cross-section of experts including child welfare, mental health, and juvenile justice service providers; legal professionals; students; advocates for children; and tribal and federal leaders.

This year’s conference theme is “Healing from Trauma: Supporting Native Communities, Family, and Children.” It is intended to help attendees better understand cultural, historical, intergenerational, and current trauma in Indian Country with the goal of supporting Native communities, families, and children in a process of healing.

Conference Highlights

  • Over 70 workshops to attend
  • Exhibitors and arts and crafts vendors
  • Over 150 tribes represented
  • Social and professional networking
  • Cultural activities
  • Four exciting general sessions
  • Skill-building workshops
  • Banquet and silent auction
  • Membership reception
  • Special affinity group meetings such as those targeting ICWA directors and legal professionals
  • Special program for adult adoptees and their families
  • Awarding of the 2015 Champion for Native Children

Conference Goals

  • To highlight successful strategies for developing effective services
  • To reveal the latest and most innovative child welfare and children’s mental health service delivery practices
  • To highlight tactics and strategies for financing and sustaining services that impact children
  • To showcase strategies for involving youth and families in developing services and policies that lead to systems change
  • To create peer-to-peer networks that will assist each other in the work toward permanency for all American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) families
  • To share the latest research on the well-being of AI/AN children and effective child welfare and children’s mental health services, practices, and policies.


Lauren Shapiro

Events Manager

(503) 222-4044, ext. 118

About Our Conference Theme

Healing from Trauma: Supporting Native Communities, Families, and Children

Trauma in Indian Country takes many forms: cultural, historical, intergenerational, and current. Each affects the lives and well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, families, and children in distinct ways. The effects of trauma on AI/AN people include high rates of substance misuse and mental health disorders, which in turn lead to violence, child maltreatment, juvenile delinquency, incarceration, and cycles of poverty. Trauma affects the health of a community and the child-serving systems within it. Yet, Native communities are creating effective approaches to facilitate identification of trauma and healing.

Trauma is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as “an event, or series of events, that cause moderate to severe stress reactions. Traumatic events are characterized by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury or death…affecting those who suffer injuries or loss.” Healing from trauma is a complex and often difficult process. Strengths-based, trauma-informed, community level child- and family-serving systems of care are an important resource to AI/AN children and families who have faced trauma. These systems do more than target presenting problems. These systems realize the impact of trauma; fully integrate knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and actively resist re-traumatization. Strengths-based, trauma-informed, community-level child- and family-serving systems of care build strength, resilience, and well-being through sovereignty and self-determination. It is important for individuals, families, and communities to come together to support each other in a process of healing by creating these systems.

This year’s conference will focus on creating trauma-informed systems; promoting resilience; and supporting AI/AN children, families, and communities in the process of healing from trauma.