National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)
The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) is dedicated to the well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native children and families. NICWA offers training, technical assistance, and professional development which provide rigorous, timely, and meaningful information to those who serve Native children and families. Live training is offered, as is online training. Online training features a learning platform to understand the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. This training reflects an understanding of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 in non-legal language and is presented in the order in which a child welfare worker might encounter in an ICWA case. Addressing child abuse and neglect in tribal communities is a core mission of NICWA. Working with tribal communities, families and others to target the risk factors and precursors to child abuse and neglect is of key priority. Projects include PIP Curriculum which works with partners and funders interested in supporting the evaluation of parenting, substance misuse and disorders, mental health services. The "First Kids 1st: Every Native Child is Sacred" project aims to create a coalescence among education, health, child welfare and governance systems to better support Native children and youth. NICWA participates in SAMHSA's Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children) which supports children, ages birth to eight, in reaching social, emotional, behavioral, physical, and cognitive milestones to foster healthy growth for children to thrive in school and beyond. NICWA is also keenly involved in policy and advocacy for AI/AN children and families and is recognized by policymakers and program administrators at the tribal, state, and national levels for their work and dedication. NICWA maintains a memorandum of understanding with the National Congress of American Indians to provide child welfare and children's mental health expertise and help staff the Indian Child and Family Welfare Subcommittee. NICWA also provides child welfare and children's mental health policy and practice expertise to a number of regional intertribal organizations. NICWA also provides a robust library of research references and resources to support work in Indian Child Welfare. NICWA understands, due to the overrepresentation of AI/AN children in foster care systems, AI/AN has a disproportionate exposure to trauma which has undermined efforts to improve child welfare outcomes for AI/AN children and families. NICWA addresses these systemic problems that contribute to racial disproportionality in foster care by educating policymakers, advocating for increased prevention services, and assisting tribes in increasing their own capacity to provide services to their member children and families. NICWA maintains Tribal Training Partnerships with numerous tribes to provide training on the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Program. NICWA leverages their experience to offer Child Welfare Program Assessments for tribal organizations to support integrated funding and funding sources. In addition, NICWA helps tribal organizations, including state agencies assess their service delivery systems to identify strengths, areas for improvement, and strategies for implementing recommended change. NICWA partners with the Center for Adoption Support and Education's National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative to develop web-based evidence-informed, adoption competency mental health training. NICWA's work in children's mental health helps tribes develop effective service systems and build a skilled, informed, and well-prepared workforce. NICWA's projects in the area of children's mental health include numerous partnerships supporting many systems of care grantees across the country. NICWA supports youth engagement, including youth mental health, in a way that encourages leadership, positive identity, community involvement, and healthy relationships. Two seats on NICWAs board of directors are reserved for youth board members. The youth members share the same rights and responsibilities as adult members. NICWA's programming for youth, including mental health programs, supports the youth-led principle - youth engagement specialists provide technical assistance and help develop programming, resources, and opportunities for AI/AN youth. NICWA conducts research and provides technical assistance for the juvenile justice system and helps develop tribal and state polices initiatives that support AI/AN youth disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system. NICWA provides opportunities to get involved with tribal communities and policy formation. They, also, offer an updated section for news, including policy updates and programming to support AI/AN children and families.