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Support for American Indian Children

December 7, 2016

UMD will improve the delivery of the Indian Child Welfare Act through a new federal grant.

Karen Nichols, Priscilla Day, and Bree Bussey in the UMD Department of Social Work have a lot of work ahead of them. The long days to come don't phase them though. In fact, Karen Nichols says, "We are so thrilled to be doing this important work."

In mid-October 2016, they received a significant federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a better delivery system for the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law that seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families. "We were one of only three agencies in the country to receive this grant," say Priscilla Day, professor and head of the social work department, and an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe from the Leech Lake Reservation.

The UMD Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies, which is part of UMD's Social Work Department, was founded in 2005 to help prepare social work students to be culturally competent workers in public and tribal child welfare programs and to work with community agencies to improve the child welfare workforce.

Professor Day said, "We are pleased to be able to utilize the ICWA Implementation Partnership Grant to further the work of the UMD center and to strengthen our partnerships with St. Louis County and regional tribes. I appreciate all the hard work done by center staff and our community partners to make this grant possible. We have a fabulous team!"

It isn't complicated, but there are a lot of pieces to the project. UMD will serve as the grant's lead organization and will work with seven other organizations including courts, child welfare agencies, and tribes, to determine the most successful methods to help children and families. They will test delivery methods, collect data, and measure success.

The goal of the five-year initiative is to create a protocol for effective implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act that can be replicated. "The results of our 'demonstration project' will be shared with other agencies across the country," says Bree Bussey, program director for UMD's center.

Project partners:
UMD Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services
Sixth Judicial District, Duluth MN
Leech Lake Tribal Court – Paul Day
Grand Portage Band
Fond du Lac Band

This project is funded through the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, Grant # 90CT7004-01-00.

More about the Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies

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