About Conference

43rd Annual Protecting Our Children Conference
March 30-April 2, 2025 — Orlando, Florida and Virtually

Each year, NICWA hosts the largest national gathering on American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) child advocacy issues. With over 1,600 attendees—and growing every year—this three-day conference has become the premiere national event addressing tribal child welfare and well-being. Keynote speakers range from federal officials at the highest level of government to youth with lived experience in child welfare systems.

For those who can’t make it, we have a virtual option. All three of our amazing general sessions with over a dozen wonderful speakers will be broadcast virtually. If you can’t make it in person, consider being a virtual attendee.

NICWA provides meaningful programming to conference attendees, creating a space where participants can learn about the latest developments and best practices from experts in the field and from one another. Participants represent a cross-section of fields and interests including child welfare, mental health, and juvenile justice service providers; legal professionals; students; advocates for children; and tribal, state, and federal leaders.

Conference Goals:

  • Highlight successful strategies for developing effective services
  • Reveal the latest and most innovative child welfare and children’s mental health service delivery practices
  • Highlight tactics and strategies for financing and sustaining services that impact children
  • Showcase strategies for involving youth and families in developing services and policies that lead to systems change
  • Create peer-to-peer networks that will assist each other in the work toward permanency for all AI/AN families
  • 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

Year after year, attendees share their enthusiasm and the value of their time spent together during the NICWA conference.

Who Should Attend?

All individuals who are committed to serving American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children and their families are encouraged to attend. Moreover, many sessions target one or more of these groups:

  • Child welfare workers, directors, and staff from tribal, state, and federal programs
  • Tribal leaders
  • Substance abuse treatment staff
  • Mental health service providers
  • Law enforcement
  • Judges, attorneys, and court and legal staff
  • Teachers, counselors, educators, school administrators, and staff
  • BIA and IHS social service staff
  • Grassroots community organizers
  • Private practice providers
  • Parents, guardians, elders, and extended family members

“I met some wonderful contacts and was able to network with other members and presenters about services and resources that will help me better serve my community.”

“I felt like it was the epitome of being Indigenous, everyone working and moving and collaborating together as one for one main purpose.”

“Thank you so much for the renewed faith, vigor, and hope that we are progressing in our fight to protect our children.”

“This was my first conference. The experience was amazing. I’ve seen a lot of Natives, but to see all of the people here for one thing—our children—I learned a lot from meeting other people here.”