HOLLYWOOD — The National Indian Child Welfare Association (or NICWA) brought child welfare workers, social work students and instructors, and mental health professionals together to discuss issues of Native child welfare on Oct. 4-6.
More than 70 enrollees participated in specialized training sessions focused on two classes: Positive Indian Parenting and Indian Child Welfare Association (ICWA) basic training and policy at the Hard Rock over the three-day event.
“I am really proud we were able to bring this here to the Seminole reservation,” said Ted Nelson Sr., Tribal citizen and seven-year NICWA Board of Directors Vice President. “Tribal Council has always been a big supporter of this organization. It is also the first time this (NICWA training) has been brought to the southeastern U.S.”
Nadeen Jimmy, a social service worker and session participant from the Nooksack Indian Tribe, said she was glad she and daughter Joal Galindo made the more than 3,300 mile trek to Seminole country from Deming, Wash.
“This was important because we (as Nooksack Tribal citizens) have a lot of young parents and they do not have the tools to be a parent,” Jimmy said. “It is our job to teach them. We have a lot of parents that have lost their children also, and this is good in trying to help them.”
NICWA, an extension of the Indian Child Welfare Act (or ICWA) of 1978, aims to keep American Indian children with their birth families.
According to NICWA’s website, the private, nonprofit organization based out of Portland, Ore. works to address the issues of child abuse and neglect through training, research, public policy and grassroots community development. Members include tribes and individuals of Native and non-Native origin and private organizations from around the United States. It receives its funding from those memberships, as well as individual and corporate donations, fundraising events, program contracts and fees for service, curriculum sales, foundation and federal grants.
The organization also improves the lives of Native children and families by helping tribes and other service providers implement services that are culturally competent, community-based and focused on strengths and assets of families including: collaborating with tribal and urban Indian child welfare programs to increase their service capacity, enhancing tribal-state relationships, and providing training, technical assistance, information services and alliance building.
The 2012 NICWA national conference will be held April 22-25, 2012 in Scottsdale, Ariz.