E-Notes, the monthly newsletter from the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids.
National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids / E-Notes

This issue of E-Notes provides tools and information that states and tribes can use to support partnerships and APSR preparation, focusing on Native American children in care as one of the many diverse groups that are important to consider as part of your diligent recruitment efforts.

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APSR planning

As we head into spring, states and many tribal child welfare systems will be getting ready to submit their Annual Progress and Services Reports (APSRs). Across the country, Native American children and youth are involved in child welfare systems at disproportionately high rates. At the NRCDR, we continue to hear from states and tribes about the need to recruit, develop, and support additional resource families for Native American children. The APSR development process provides opportunities for states and tribes to share information and coordinate efforts to ensure that their systems have a sufficient pool of resource families available to meet the needs of Native American children and youth in care. We encourage states to plan ahead for how you will consult with tribes as you develop your APSRs.

Tools you can use

Diligent Recruitment Navigator improved for tribes

As part of our ongoing efforts to provide materials and information that are highly relevant and tailored for tribes and tribal child welfare systems, we have revised the tribal versions of our customizable Diligent Recruitment Navigator to incorporate feedback we’ve received from tribes and to have the tool better reflect tribal practices, leadership structures, and values.

The Diligent Recruitment Navigator provides suggested discussion questions that you can use for planning your diligent recruitment efforts as well as for periodically assessing and updating your diligent recruitment plan and program. Updated versions of the discussion questions for tribes include:

  • What are our tribe’s beliefs about adoption and termination of parental rights for native children? Is customary adoption one of the options we can use for achieving permanency? How does this affect how we do recruitment and permanency planning for children in care?
  • How often do we meet with the state(s) to discuss needs and effective strategies for recruiting and supporting native families for native children in foster care?

If you are with a tribe and haven’t yet downloaded the Diligent Recruitment Navigator, now is a great time to check it out! Even if you’ve already downloaded it, you may want to get an updated version for your ongoing use.

Recruiting Families for Native American Children: Strengthening Partnerships for Success (107 KB PDF)

PDF cover for Recruiting Families for Native American ChildrenThis NRCDR publication provides specific strategies state and county child welfare systems can use to recruit families for Native American children in foster care, highlights the importance of effective recruitment strategies as a way to support a child welfare system’s efforts to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act, and offers suggestions for developing and strengthening partnerships with tribes and tribal child welfare systems. While we developed this publication with the primary goal of building state child welfare systems’ capacities to recruit, develop, and support families for Native American children in foster care, tribes may also find ideas and strategies that are useful in their work. Tribes can also share this publication with state and county child welfare agencies, and it may provide a foundation for discussions about ways to work together. Below we highlight a few of the ideas from the full publication.

Strategies for strengthening your recruitment, development, and support of resource families for Native American children:

  1. Examine your data on prospective Native American families who have gone through the licensure or approval process to identify any key trends, including points in the process where families are more likely to drop off.
  2. Understand the available resources within the tribal community, including formal and informal services and supports. These culturally relevant resources can be particularly helpful when meeting the needs of the children and their resource family.
  3. Respect tribal customs, values, and beliefs so that children receive these cultural teachings while in your foster care system. By encouraging tribal child welfare programs to participate and assist with family finding and case planning, you can facilitate culturally relevant services and enrich your own understanding of that tribe’s culture.
  4. Use feedback from tribal partners and Native American resource families about elements of the family licensure/approval and preparation processes to identify barriers preventing Native American families from continuing through the process. For example, some licensing requirements may not apply well to housing arrangements in some tribal communities or may ignore important community customs and supports.

Strategies for partnering with tribes and tribal child welfare systems:

  1. Communicate with and include tribes at the beginning of new initiatives and changes (e.g., change in legislation, state policy, or practice; plans to address cultural competency; development of new staff training approaches; creation of initiatives on improving or monitoring Indian Child Welfare Act [ICWA] compliance.) Don’t wait to just inform tribes after a change or initiative has occurred.
  2. Arrange and participate in regularly scheduled meetings (e.g., monthly, quarterly). Meet consistently; alternate the meeting locations; share facilitation roles between state and tribal agency leaders; develop meeting agendas together; and have a meal together to build relationships and network.
  3. Invite tribes to participate in relevant advisory committees or planning teams that work on recruitment, licensing, and placement issues.
  4. Invite tribes to events your child welfare system hosts, including foster parent training, staff training, recruitment events, and policy-planning meetings.

Ideas from the field

See our August 2016 issue of E-Notes, Families for Native American Children, for ideas from the field that can help you develop a pool of Native American families for children in foster care. Some of these ideas are specific to states and some to tribes; most can be applied in both state and tribal child welfare systems.

News and announcements

New AFCARS requirements

For the first time since 1993, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released new regulations with new requirements for what states and tribes must report to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). This blog post highlights many of the key changes and areas of improvement for AFCARS. One of the notable changes is in data collection related to the Indian Child Welfare Act. Under these new requirements, data related to the experiences of American Indian/Alaskan Native children to whom the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies will be collected for the first time. As described by ACYF: “This will provide new insights about Indian children and may help address the overrepresentation of Indian children in foster care.” Read the final rule on AFCARS in the federal register.

Guidelines for implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act (631 KB PDF)

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has developed guidelines intended to assist those involved in child custody proceedings in understanding and uniformly applying ICWA and Department of the Interior regulations. All such parties—including the courts, state child welfare agencies, private adoption agencies, tribes, and family members—have a stake in ensuring the proper implementation of this important federal law designed to protect Indian children, their parents, and Indian tribes. The regulations apply to any child custody proceeding initiated on or after December 12, 2016, even if the child has already undergone child custody proceedings prior to that date to which the regulation did not apply.

Guidelines stating principles for working with federally recognized Indian tribes

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), issued guidelines stating principles for working with federally recognized Indian tribes, effective October 20, 2016. The guidelines include the following sections: (I) Overarching principles for working with federally recognized Indian tribes; (II) Consultation and communication with tribes; (III) Culture and mutual respect; (IV) Nation-building and effective delivery of human services to Indian communities; (V) Coordination and outreach; (VI) Administrative data management; and (VII) Sustainability.


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AdoptUSKids is operated by the Adoption Exchange Association and is made possible by grant number 90CQ0002 from the Children’s Bureau. The contents of this email are solely the responsibility of the Adoption Exchange Association and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Children’s Bureau, ACYF, ACF, or HHS. The Children’s Bureau funds AdoptUSKids as part of a network of National Resource Centers established by the Children’s Bureau. Find out more about us.

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