2022 NICWA Annual Conference Agenda and Workshops

Amazing Content Will Inspire Your Work With Native Children and Families

NICWA’s Protecting Our Children Conference offers a robust and rigorous agenda throughout the four-day event. With several expert-led workshops and four general sessions featuring inspiring speakers ranging from high-ranking federal officials to youth who have experienced child-serving systems, our agenda is designed to give you practical, advanced, and culturally relevant information for you to take home to your community.


Schedule at a Glance

Below is a tentative schedule for our hybrid conference. Please note all times are in Eastern Time.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

3:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
Registration Open

7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.
Membership Reception and Meeting

Monday, April 4, 2022

8:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Opening General Session

1:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m.
Workshops A

3:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Workshops B

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

7:30 a.m.–8:15 a.m.
Day of Prayer

8:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m.
Workshops C

10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
General Session

1:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m.
Workshops D

3:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Workshops E

6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
Banquet Dinner

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

8:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m.
Workshops F

10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Closing General Session

At times, content at the annual Protecting Our Children Conference may be upsetting or triggering to some participants. With that in mind, every year NICWA develops a mental health plan to have support available for participants who may need it. Here are resources for conference presenters and participants.

Experience Informative Sessions from Leaders in the Field of Tribal Child Welfare

Join your peers in choosing from workshops across five programmatic tracks:

Child Welfare, Foster Care, and Adoption ServicesSpanning areas such as grant writing for child welfare programs, implementing differential response, identifying best practices in family team decision making, and cutting-edge research practices, this track includes the latest and most up-to-date information in child welfare. Explore topics including providing effective prevention services and planning for youth engagement while establishing transitional services. Workshops will support improvements in your child welfare, foster care, and adoption services as well as the skills of program staff and educators, which could impact your program, tribe, community, and school for generations to come.

Children’s Mental HealthLeaders in the field of children’s mental health will share experience, research, and information on the issues that impact Indian children everywhere. Learn how to support and nurture families dealing with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and empower young people using new community engagement techniques. Learn about Systems of Care, how to address the difficult topic of youth suicide, and what can be done to change the future for young people to bring promising results. Incarceration is a common result of historical trauma; explore new techniques for culturally appropriate services, including traditional healing and other ways to heal our children, families, and communities.

Connectedness. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the services and practices of child welfare systems and the way communities work together to keep children safe. Connection to culture, resources, and each other has always been paramount to the well-being of Indigenous youth and families, and during the pandemic, frontline workers, agencies, and courts found new ways to make these connections for youth and families. This track explores strategies, adaptations, and resources created during the pandemic to address the consistent need for connection. Examples include adapted virtual interactive service delivery models, adapted traditional programs which address connection, and child welfare services provided within a socially distanced community.

Judicial and Legal AffairsThe well-being of AI/AN children and families is impacted by tribal, federal, and state laws and policies that guide practice in child welfare, juvenile justice, and mental health services. In this track, participants will learn about these laws and policies and how they are implemented. Workshops will discuss effective legal practice on behalf of AI/AN children and families, programmatic challenges to implementing federal policies, tribal code development, innovative tribal court practices, intergovernmental agreements, and how effective collaboration can lead to meaningful systems change.

Youth and Family InvolvementYouth and families are the experts in their own lives; they should have an active role in their care management. Learn to engage and empower youth and families involved with systems using a strengths based perspective. Gain insight on trauma-informed methods of engaging youth and families in productive ways; learn steps to developing successful youth leaders. Become informed of what diverse AI/AN communities across the country are currently doing and have done in the past to involve Native youth and families. Reflect on what your community can do to improve youth involvement and family engagement at every level, ensuring that youth and families have decision-making power in their home, schools, communities, and tribes.