(Portland, Ore., February 10, 2021)—The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) has received a generous $300,000 grant from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, a federally recognized American Indian tribe located near the city of Highland, California, to provide resources to Native families across the nation that encounter the child welfare system. These resources include print public service announcements, podcasts, webinars, and social media campaigns.

“NICWA champions the unique needs of Native children,” said NICWA Board President Gil Vigil. “With mission-critical renewed funding from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, NICWA is able to work directly with families and service providers to provide cultural competent services that strengthen Native families. In this time of COVID-19, our partnership will enable us to harness social media and other non-contact communication methods to reach families safely at home.” 

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is proud to support the ICWA Crisis Response and Family Support program and its efforts to serve families across Indian Country. “Our continued collaboration powerfully demonstrates our sovereignty and our right, as tribal nations, to determine our own destiny by protecting what is most fundamental: the family,” said San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairman Ken Ramirez. “Our partnership benefits the common good of our shared community and provides culturally appropriate services for families across Indian Country.”

Each year, at least 25,000 Native families encounter state child welfare systems where they are at risk of having their children removed. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) establishes minimum criteria for states to follow in child welfare cases where an Indian child is involved. 

California law confirms that it is in an Indian child’s best interest to enhance and protect the child’s connection to their tribe and tribal community. This occurs through state adherence to the minimum federal standards set forth in ICWA, enacted in 1978 in response to a crisis affecting American Indian and Alaska Native children, families, and tribes. At the time, studies revealed that large numbers of Native children were being separated from their parents, extended families, and communities by state and private child welfare agencies. The intent of Congress under ICWA is to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.” 

Each year NICWA provides compassionate social work support to over 1,000 families trying to navigate the child welfare system and refers them to information, resources, and programs. Families should visit www.nicwa.org for more information about resources. 

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About the National Indian Child Welfare Association

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 level. For more information, visit www.nicwa.org.