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NICWA conference set for Orlando

Registration is open for the NICWA conference in April. (Courtesy NICWA)

Organizers are prepping for the National Indian Child Welfare Association’s (NICWA) annual “Protecting Our Children” conference. This year’s theme is “Homecoming: 40 Years of Connecting for Our Children.” The event is scheduled to take place April 3-6 in Orlando, Florida.

For the past two years the conference has been held online due to the pandemic. But this year, organizers have planned for a return to an in person event while also offering an online option.

“NICWA is closely monitoring the evolution and spread of the COVID-19 virus,” a Jan. 14 statement said. “Our top priority is ensuring that all conference guests have a safe, high-quality experience.”

NICWA said that if it is determined the in person event should be canceled, registrants would automatically be converted to the virtual format with the difference in cost refunded.

The conference is the largest of its kind to focus on tribal child welfare and well-being. The Seminole Tribe was the lead sponsor of last year’s event, which had almost 1,500 online attendees from dozens of states and Canadian provinces representing hundreds of tribes. The tribe has returned as the lead sponsor of this year’s event as well.

Attendees are typically those who work in the child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice and legal professions – as well as students, child advocates and tribal, state and federal leaders.

Sarah Kastelic (Alutiiq), NICWA’s executive director, and her staff, bring in keynote speakers that range from high-level federal officials to young people with experience in child welfare systems. The programming highlights the latest developments and best practices for the well-being of Native children, and effective child welfare and children’s mental health services and policies.

The status of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) will be another point of focus. Recent court challenges to its constitutionality have resulted in petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the law, perhaps as soon as this year.  

The conference is scheduled to take place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, located at 5780 Major Blvd. Early bird registration is available through Feb. 25. Questions can be directed to training@nicwa.org. Click here for more information or go to nicwa.org.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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