Oklahoma ICWA Partnership Grant Summary
In September 2016, a partnership between the Child Welfare Services Division of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (CWS), the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Association (OICWA), and the Court Improvement Program (CIP) was awarded a 5 year, 2.5 million dollar ICWA implementation grant from the Administration on Children and Families. The purpose of the partnership is to encourage effective, replicable ways to meet or exceed requirements of ICWA, working together to create solutions for longstanding ICWA practice challenges, including improvements in relationships, communication, training and cultural humility, measurement of current child welfare and court practice related to ICWA, and system improvements through state, regional, and local collaboration and demonstration projects.
Over the past decade a number of efforts have marked the work of tribal and state child welfare. The Tribal/State Collaborative, an effort to bring decision makers together, began meeting quarterly in 2006. State Child Welfare reform efforts led to the creation of a Tribal Program Unit meant to bridge between CWS and ICW agencies. And the ICWA Snapshot project, a collaborative effort to gather information from state, tribes, and courts on ICWA practice, gave a picture, albeit an incomplete one, of the gap that exists between policy and practice.
During this Oklahoma ICWA Partnership effort, one area of focus will be working together to establish a process for joint planning, decision making, development of intervention strategies, and evaluation. A second area of focus is a review of current ICWA training across all stakeholder groups, ultimately leading to recommendations around the development of expanded or targeted training.
The first year of the grant (2017) will focus on planning. Staff will conduct key informant interviews of child welfare, court, tribal, educational and other stakeholders, which will provide the grant leadership with important qualitative information to add to the existing quantitative information on ICWA practice. In addition, staff will assemble information about current training that is provided to the various parties involved in ICWA cases. This information on practice and training will be utilized in a planning process to develop key areas that the grant leadership team wishes to address, and will provide a framework for beginning to implement changes at the local, regional, and statewide level. An evaluation component will measure the effectiveness of the changes as well as the process of joint decision making itself.
The desired outcome of this grant includes improvements in ICWA knowledge and practice, communication between CWS, ICW and courts, and most importantly, the strengthening of a decision making partnership that can continue long into the future.