March 22, 2024

Quarterly Newsletter


 2024 Winter NICWA News

“ICWA Advocacy: Tribal Leaders Setting Priorities”

NICWA News is the quarterly newsletter for members and donors of the National Indian Child Welfare Association. Donate or become a member today to subscribe.

A Message from NICWA’s Executive Director

Dear NICWA Members, Sponsors, Donors, and Friends,

This winter issue of NICWA News embraces the theme ICWA Advocacy: Tribal Leaders Setting Priorities. At NICWA, we honor the vital role of elected and appointed leaders in setting direction for our advocacy. Tribal leaders bring perspectives that complement those of tribal child welfare directors, service providers, families and youth with lived experience, and other community leaders, spiritual leaders, and youth leaders. Additionally, tribal leaders have a unique role and responsibility regarding the well-being of their member children. They set the tone, hold the vision, pass the laws, and empower the systems that protect American Indian and Alaska Native children in their community. 

As I’ve shared with you before, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Brackeen, so much advocacy to improve outcomes for Native children and their families is possible. We could put our energy into making many different policy and practice changes at the tribal, state, and federal levels. We also know that tribal and state child welfare are significantly underfunded. There is also much we could do to support and strengthen our workforce. We need to make some decisions about the top priorities we, as an advocacy community, want to move forward. We also need a longer-term strategic plan to guide our work for the next decade and beyond.

In this issue, you’ll read about the tribal leader listening sessions we held in fall 2023 and the additional sessions we’re hosting this year, including a session at our conference in Seattle in April. The session themes thus far are summarized in the center spread of this issue. We hope you’ll join us at our final conference listening session to contribute your voice and perspectives to this work. At our closing conference plenary panel, you’ll hear more about how we’re moving forward with our advocacy and communications work. The priorities that we unify around will be reflected in a NICWA board of directors resolution, which we’ll bring to the National Congress of American Indians Mid-Year Conference for national tribal leader endorsement in early June.  

Together we can accomplish things that none of us can do alone. I look forward to sharing more about our growth, vision, key priorities, and the significant opportunities for us to work together to strengthen tribal nations, Native families, and children in the coming months.

With gratitude for your advocacy for Native children,

Sarah L. Kastelic, PhD (Alutiiq)

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