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Enhancing Services To Native American Families

January 31, 2005

Bismarck, N.D. - Individuals and organizations who provide services to Native American children and their families can learn more about providing culturally appropriate services and complying with federal law by attending the Indian Child Welfare Conference, February 16-18 at the Seven Seas Inn, Mandan, N.D. Featured speakers include experts on juvenile justice services, cultural relations, child behavior management in the classroom and in the community, tribal values, and the law.

“The face of North Dakota is changing. While the number of children in North Dakota is declining, the number of children of color and different cultural backgrounds is growing. The state's Native American population is younger, and the refugee segment of our population also includes many children. This is an opportunity for people to join in a dialogue about how we can provide better services to all families,” said Carol K. Olson, executive director of the N.D. Department of Human Services.

Conference planner Cheryl Long Feather of the Native American Training Institute said the conference is a professional development opportunity that will benefit not only social workers, ICWA workers, adoption and foster care workers, and legal professionals, but also juvenile services professionals, mental health professionals, teachers, and state, tribal and local officials who want to improve the way services are provided to children and families.

Conference sessions include using data in Indian child welfare, customary adoption, tribal duties to Indian families, cultural considerations in mental health, juvenile justice, motivating the hopeless, disinterested, and uninvolved; working together to stop sexual abuse; state-tribal courts working together; and understanding tribal perspectives.

“Conference attendees will learn about new practices and will be able to network with other professionals in order to strengthen future collaboration. They will also be able to enjoy entertainment and to register for door prizes including star quilts,” Long Feather said.

Stipends and Continuing Education Units are available for social workers. Continuing Legal Education credits have been applied for through the North Dakota Bar Association. Registration fees range from $45 (early bird rate ends February 4) to $85 (on-site registration for full three days). For information or to register, contact the Native American Training Institute at 701-255-6374 or at www.nativeinstitute.org.

The conference is sponsored by the N.D. Department of Human Services' Children and Family Services Division, and the N.D. Supreme Court's Court Improvement Project to provide ongoing education about cultural considerations and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law that supports Indian tribes' authority over their members and promotes the well-being of Indian children and families.


Paul Ronningen, Director of Children and Family Services, 701-328-1725, Cheryl Long Feather, Native American Training Institute, 701-255-6374/701-220-4542, or Heather Steffl, Public Information Officer, 701-328-4933


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