Foster Care and Adoption

AI/AN children are overrepresented in state foster care systems. This disproportionality has increased trauma to AI/AN children, families, and communities, and has undermined efforts to improve child welfare outcomes for this population. NICWA addresses the systemic problems that contribute to racial disproportionality in foster care and racial disparities in access to support services that can prevent the breakup of AI/AN families. We do this by educating policymakers on the potential impacts of policies, advocating for increased prevention services, and assisting tribes in increasing their own capacity to provide services to their member children and families wherever they may live.

Projects & Partners

PIP Curriculum Evaluation

NICWA has long aspired to evaluate our PIP curriculum, as we believe establishing evidence of effectiveness of the program will allow tribes to access additional funding streams to support local PIP implementation. Fortunately, with policy change in the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act, some private and government funders are interested in supporting evaluation of parenting, substance abuse, and mental health services as a way for states and tribes to secure additional federal funding for these prevention services. With support from Casey Family Programs and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, NICWA has partnered with Child Trends to design and implement a pilot evaluation of in-home delivery of PIP (as opposed to a group setting) with Native families who are not mandated to receive parenting training. While PIP was designed to be widely customized, it is important to ensure the fidelity of PIP’s key principles and content is maintained across different sites. Consistency in key content items and format will ensure the curriculum is delivered in the way originally intended and will allow PIP to be evaluated meaningfully related to well-being outcomes for children and caregiver-child relationships.

Tribal Training Partnerships

NICWA has partnered with numerous tribes to provide training on the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance program. Title IV-E funds child placement activities related to foster care, relative guardianship, adoption, and independent living services. NICWA not only helps tribal child welfare programs evaluate whether pursuing IV-E funds makes sense for their communities, but we also have advocated for funding and policies to strengthen and improve the Title IV-E program for tribal communities.

Child Welfare Program Assessment

As with all human services agencies, tribal services need to be dynamic, responsive to the changing needs of the community, and supported by integrated funding strategies that leverage funding sources well. NICWA has extensive experience in helping tribal and state agencies assess their service delivery systems to identify strengths, areas for improvement, and strategies for implementing recommended change. Our solution-oriented and strengths-based approach integrates perspectives from the community, agency, partners, and leadership to ensure that the assessment yields useful, actionable data and recommendations that can create long-term, sustainable improvements in program efforts and better outcomes for AI/AN children.

Center for Adoption Support and Education

NICWA partners with the Center for Adoption Support and Education’s National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative to develop a web-based, state-of-the-art, and evidence-informed adoption competency mental health training.

Developing Foster Care and Kinship Care Standards

NICWA assisted the Council on Accreditation with developing foster care and kinship care standards used to accredit public and private agencies that address the unique needs of Native children and account for the protections of ICWA.