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Indian Tribes
For additional resources, click here to visit the NRCPFC Indian Child Welfare Issues Hot Topic webpage.
Promising Practices and Policies from States and Tribes


  • California:
    Commissioner Curt Child: Legislative Update on Foster Care Issues
    (July-August 2010)

    • AB 770 (Torres) Indian tribes: foster care and adoption program
      Status: Chaptered by Secretary of State – Chapter 124, Statutes of 2009.
      Directs the Department of Social Services to negotiate in good faith with an Indian tribe, organization, or consortium in the state that requests development of an agreement with the state to administer all or part of the federal foster care programs under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act on behalf of Indian children who are under their authority.

    • AB 1325 (Cook) Tribal customary adoption
      Status: Chaptered by the Secretary of State - Chapter 287, Statues of 2009.
      Establishes tribal customary adoption as a permanency option for Indian children. Defines tribal customary adoption to be adoption without the termination of parental rights. Requires the Judicial Council, by July 1, 2010, to adopt rules of court and necessary forms to implement tribal customary adoption. Requires the Judicial Council to study implementation of tribal customary adoption and report to the Legislature by January 1, 2013.

  • Texas:
    Tribal Issues
    DFPS initiated quarterly meetings with representatives of the three federally recognized tribes in Texas in October 2009 to share information and discuss collaboration building efforts, as well as provide an opportunity to articulate coordination and technical assistance needs. Meeting discussions have included further efforts for completion of Tribal State agreements and new opportunities for Tribes created with the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act.


  • S’Klallam Tribe (PGST): First Native American Tribe Approved to Operate Guardianship, Foster Care and Adoption Program
    For the first time in U.S. child welfare history, a tribe will have control over the process for evaluating child abuse and neglect allegations, determining whether children need to be placed in foster care, and finding permanent homes for children – safely back with their parents, in the homes of caring relatives, or with adoptive families. On April 1, 2012, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe (PGST) became the first Native American community permitted to operate its own guardianship assistance, foster care and adoption assistance program. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-351) allows tribes to receive direct funding from the federal government under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.

T/TA & Web Based Resources from NRCs, Children’s Bureau, T/TA Network

National Tribal Gatherings on Fostering Connections

General Information and Resources

  • Developing and Negotiating Tribal Title IV-E Plans and Agreements
    This resource is part of a series of fact sheets for States and Tribes made available by The Training and Technical Assistance Coordination Center (TTACC). These two-page briefs describe available training and technical assistance (T/TA) from the Children’s Bureau to support implementation of the Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 in eight key areas. Each fact sheet offers a brief overview of the Fostering Connections Act’s provisions in the topic area, the allowable funding and costs for that area under the Act, and examples of the free training and technical assistance that the Children’s Bureau’s National Resource Centers and Implementation Centers can give States and Tribes in that area.

  • ACYF-CB-PI-10-11: An Overview of the Comprehensive Fostering Connections PI
    This PowerPoint on Fostering Connections was presented by Elizabeth Sharp, Program Specialist, Policy Division, Children’s Bureau, on October 4, 2010 at the 2010 Policy to Practice Dialogue Conference in Washington, DC. It is a comprehensive overview of PI-10-11. Page 39 addresses “Negotiating in Good Faith with Indian Tribes.”

  • Tribal Title IV-E Program Considerations, Technical Assistance Document
    This document from the Children’s Bureau is designed as a technical assistance tool for Indian Tribes to use in considering how to plan for the resources, policies, and procedures they will or may need to implement a direct title IV-E program. (April 2009)

  • Tribal-State Relations: CWIG Issue Briefs

    • What Are the Key Factors Affecting Tribal-State Relations?
      Almost all Tribes operate some form of child protection services, and many have their own Tribal codes, court systems, and child welfare programs. A number of factors affect relationships between Tribes and States in the provision of child welfare services. These include, but are not limited to, the Federal trust responsibility between Tribes and the Federal Government, influence of various Federal policies, issues of State jurisdiction over Tribal affairs, Tribal-State disagreements, availability of funding for child welfare activities, and Tribal-State differences in child welfare values and practices. How each of these factors is understood and address by all involved parties can significantly enhance (or detract from) the availability of Tribes and States to have productive and meaningful relationships that support child welfare services to Tribal children. This Child Welfare Information Gateway Issue Brief addresses some key factors affecting Tribal-State relations. (2005)

    • What Are the Components of Successful Tribal-State Relations?
      Tribes and States share common purposes and common interests. Both entities are concerned with protecting the health and welfare of their citizens by effectively and efficiently utilizing public resources, providing comprehensive programs and services to their constituents, protecting the natural environment, and engaging in economic development activities. States and Tribes are most successful in achieving better outcomes for children and families when a positive partnership is established, as demonstrated through a mutual understanding of government structures, cooperation and respect, and ongoing communication. This Child Welfare Information Gateway Issue Brief addresses these components. (2005)

    • What Are Some Promising Practices in Successful Tribal-State Relations?
      Tribes and States that engage in cooperative relationships have the potential to serve their children and families in a more comprehensive and holistic manner. Working together, States and Tribes around the country have developed a number of promising approaches to Tribal-State relations in child welfare, including: Use of Tribal advisory committees and forums; Development of Tribal-State intergovernmental agreements and contracts; Training and information sharing; and, Development of culturally competent permanency alternatives. This Child Welfare Information Gateway Issue Brief describes each of these four approaches and provides specific Tribal-State examples of each model. (2005)

Transition to Adulthood

  • Tribal Youth Transitioning to Adulthood: Current Status of Independent Living Services Provided to Indian Youth
    Since passage of the Foster Care Independence Act (FCIA) and implementation of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) in 1999, services focused on preparing youth for a successful transition from foster care to adulthood have become a critical component of child welfare service delivery for both States and Indian Tribes. This report from the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development provides information on the efforts of States and Tribes in providing independent living activities to tribal youth and offers strategies for improving these services. (November 2007)

  • A Native Pathway to Adulthood - Participant Manual
    A Native Pathway to Adulthood - Trainer’s Manual
    A competency-based curriculum designed by The National Resource Center for Youth Services to enhance the skills of tribal and state workers in facilitating the transition of older Native American youth from out-of-home care to adulthood. (2004)

  • Tribal Approaches to Transition
    One component of a four-part Monograph Series published by the National Resource Center for Youth Development is the Tribal Monograph. A collaborative study, coordinated by NRCYD, sought information on various independent living and transitional living programs across the country. The Tribal Monograph provides examples of programs across the United States that show promising practices in serving Indian youth by embracing the core principles of cultural competency, youth development, collaboration, and permanent connections. (2004)


For additional resources, click here to visit the NRCPFC Indian Child Welfare Issues Hot Topic webpage.

  • National Resource Center for Tribes (NRC4Tribes)
    NRC4Tribes is the newest resource center within the Children’s Bureau Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) National Network. Tribes will continue to be able to access training and technical assistance (T&TA) through various national resources centers within the Children’s Bureau National T&TA Network. Following an initial planning/assessment year, this new NRC for Tribes will become the focal point for coordinated and culturally competent child welfare T&TA for Tribes within the T&TA Network. The NRC4Tribes will work collaboratively with Tribes and the T&TA Network to assist Tribes in the enhancement of child welfare services and the promotion of safety, permanency and well-being for American Indian/Alaska Native children and families – including: Enhancing Tribal access to and utilization of the Children’s Bureau T&TA Network; Brokering Tribal T&TA through the T&TA Network; Assisting in the provision of T&TA as needed and feasible; Facilitating peer-to-peer consultation between Tribes regarding child welfare issues; Increasing cultural competence and sensitivity to Tribal voices in the T&TA Network and in State child welfare systems; Generating toolkits, resource manuals, and other products for dissemination; and, Participating in NRC4Tribes-specific and national cross-site evaluation process. A key objective of the NRC for Tribes in its first year is to conduct in a national assessment of tribal child welfare systems, to better understand and appropriately serve tribal communities in subsequent years. The National Resource Center for Tribes is authorized to provide T&TA services to federally-recognized Tribes who receive federal Title IV-B funding.

  • National Resource Center for Youth Development: Tribal Pages
    Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 made it possible for tribes to administer their own Chafee and/or ETV Programs. The National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) can assist tribes in coordinating with states to ensure that Chafee Program services meet the needs of tribal youth. NRCYD can also assist tribes in developing their own preparation for adulthood services. The Tribal Pages of the NRCYD website explain how to request T&TA and also provide information and resources pertaining to Fostering Connections and Tribes.
Resources from Collaborating Organizations
  • Overview of Tribal Provisions in P.L. 110-351
    This page of the Association on American Indian Affairs website provides an overview of Tribal Provisions of the Fostering Connections Act. It was prepared by Jack F. Trope, Executive Director, Association on American Indian Affairs.

  • Title IV-E: Helping Tribes Meet the Legal Requirements
    P.L. 110-351 authorizes Indian tribes to submit a plan to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to operate the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Program directly. It also recognizes the right of tribes to continue or seek new agreements with states to operate the program. This paper addresses the policies and codes that tribes will need to have in place in order to gain approval of their plans and successfully operate the program. This working paper was developed through the Indian Child Welfare Community of Practice. It was authored by Jack F. Trope, Executive Director, Association on American Indian Affairs. (March 2010)

  • The Role of the States in Helping Implement the Tribal Provisions in the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008
    This report addresses tribal-state agreements and direct funding to tribes. The Fostering Connections Act requires states to negotiate Title IV-E agreements with tribes in good faith, if requested, which involves new agreements or renegotiations of existing agreements. States have an important role to play when tribes apply for direct Title IV-E funds. This report also addresses direct tribal access to Chafee funds. The report was authored by Jack F. Trope and is available on the Association on American Indian Affairs website. (October 2009)

  • Connections: A Focus on Tribal Issues and TA
    Connections features new information available on the Fostering Connections Resource Center website related to implementation of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. This issue (Vol. 7) focuses on implementation efforts led by Tribes. It provides information about direct tribal access to federal child welfare funding through Title IV-E and how states and Tribes can work together to achieve good outcomes for American Indian/Alaskan Native children and families. (August 2010)

  • Supporting Tribal Child Welfare through a Better Understanding of the Opportunities under Fostering Connections
    This PowerPoint presentation is from the August 12, 2010 webinar hosted by in conjunction with the National Indian Child Welfare Agency. It provides an overview of the Fostering Connections Resource Center and also addresses the following topics: Tribal Child Welfare History and Context; Review of Fostering Connections law and the tribal provisions of the Act; Examples from the Salish and Kootenai Tribes; How states can help tribes. (August 2010)

  • Judicial Guide to Implementing the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008
    The role of the court in effectively implementing Fostering Connections is critical. This practical guide contains an analysis of the barriers faced by courts as well as implementation strategies to overcome these barriers. For each section of Fostering Connections, the guide provides: An overview of the law; judicial considerations for successful implementation; and, questions to ask from the bench to help ensure compliance with the law and best practice. The guide includes a section on Tribal Foster Care and Adoption Access. The American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law (ABA), National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCFCJ) and National Center for State Courts (NCSC) developed the publication. (2011)

  • Improving Access to Independent Living Services for Tribes and American Indian Youth
    This resource describes how Tribes can access independent living services for Indian youth and be involved in the development of culturally appropriate services to assist Indian youth as they begin the transition from tribal and state foster care systems to adulthood. This resource was authored by Nicole Clemens and is available through Casey Family Programs and the National Indian Child Welfare Association. (December 2000)
Evidence-Based Practice, Research and Reports
  • Key Considerations and Best Practices for Tribal Title IV-E Data Collection and Reporting
    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008 [P.L. 110-351] authorizes tribes, tribal organizations and tribal consortia to apply for direct funding for Title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance funds. This paper describes the background of this act and provides guidance to tribes or tribal groups in applying. An electronic survey of twenty-seven tribes and key informant interviews with eight tribal program administrators provides some insight for tribal child welfare administrators and practitioners in how to structure the application and implementation process in their own communities. Two of the administrators have received IV-E planning grants and anticipate direct funding within two years, and one of these has developed a viable data reporting system. According to these preliminary results, data collection and reporting requirements under the Fostering Connections Act present one of the significant challenges for tribal child welfare programs and tribal policy makers. This paper explores this complex issue and provides recommendations to other tribal groups. It is anticipated that, with careful planning and assistance, the Fostering Connections Act will provide an opportunity   for tribes to administer culturally grounded services to their families and collect information that tribes themselves will find relevant and useful. This working paper was developed through the Indian Child Welfare Community of Practice. It was authored by Erin Geary and Priscilla A. Day. (March 2010)

  • Transition Programs in Indian Country
    The Transition Programs in Indian Country research project provides an initial understanding of programs available to American Indian youth and services provided within American Indian communities. This report represents a beginning look at how child welfare agencies in Indian Country help American Indian youth leave foster care and begin successful adult lives. Descriptions and definitions of independent living programs are provided. Policies pertaining to the development and delivery of independent living services are presented and reviewed relative to Indian child welfare values and practice. Findings from a telephone survey conducted with 67 tribal, 8 Alaskan Native, and 11 off-reservation urban child welfare agencies are presented. This project was completed by Casey Family Programs and the National Indian Child Welfare Association. (August 2001)