(Portland, Ore., April 1, 2021) – The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) recognizes April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Since our establishment in 1983, the month of April has been central in our work to build the capacity of American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and communities to prevent child maltreatment. This year, the 39th Annual Protecting Our Children Conference, the largest gathering on American Indian and Alaska Native child advocacy issues, will take place virtually on April 12 – April 14, 2021. On Tuesday, April 13, we invite advocates for Native children to join in a National Day of Prayer for Native Children.
Each year, NICWA hosts the Protecting Our Children Conference during National Child Abuse Prevention Month as the premiere national event addressing tribal child welfare and the well-being of Native children. The National Day of Prayer for Native Children coincides with the conference as an invitation for advocates to join NICWA for this respectful gathering, and/or host a safe, socially distanced community event to demonstrate support for all Native children. Over the month of April, NICWA will share resources to promote child safety as a collective community responsibility.
“April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children and strengthening families,” said Sarah Kastelic, NICWA’s executive director. “As Native people, a sense of family and the connection to people, community, and culture larger than ourselves are central elements of our mental health and well-being. Our communities are the essential, natural safety nets needed to prevent child abuse and neglect.”
“Addressing child abuse and neglect is at the core of NICWA’s mission and work,” said Gil Vigil, NICWA’s board president. “Culturally based systems lead to better outcomes for tribal children and families. Prevention of child abuse must include respect for Native community and culture to truly prioritize child safety and well-being.”
About the virtual 39th Annual Protecting Our Children Conference:
For 39 years, NICWA has hosted the Protecting Our Children Conference in April to gather and share our collective wisdom about how to draw on our cultural traditions and teachings to strengthen American Indian and Alaska Native families and children. This year’s theme, “Connectedness, Resilience, and Persistence,” is a reflection of our lived experience during the pandemic over the last year.
Conference speakers and participants represent the frontlines of Indian child welfare, working to keep families and children safe, and make up 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.
To learn more and register for the virtual Protecting Our Children Conference, visit www.nicwa.org/conference/.
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About the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)
The National Indian Child Welfare Association works to support the safety, health, and spiritual strength of Native children along the broad continuum of their lives. NICWA promotes building tribal capacity to prevent child abuse and neglect through positive systems change at the state, federal, and tribal levels. For more information, visit www.nicwa.org/about/.