Re-examining child welfare’s response to ICWA: Collaborating with community-based agencies to reduce disparities for American Indian/Alaska Native children


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Many state and county child protection systems (CPS) are attempting to reduce the documented disproportionality in out of home placement rates for American Indian/Alaska Native children. This article presents a case example of collaboration between Colorado CPS and an urban American Indian family services agency that was intended to impact this disproportionality. The Denver Indian Family Resource Center created and evaluated a family preservation model that includes both direct services to Native families and CPS-level systemic interventions designed to reduce out-of-home placement. Direct services addressed family stressors and caregiver substance abuse and mental health issues, and incorporated Native cultural values. Systemic interventions focused on collaborative partnerships and provided CPS with practical ways to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Agency data showed an increase in the number of children remaining at home or with extended family. Statewide data showed a decrease in the disparity ratio for placement of Native children compared to White children.

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