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National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)
History and Background

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) is a national voice for American Indian children and families. We are the most comprehensive source of information on American Indian child welfare and the only national American Indian organization focused specifically on the tribal capacity to prevent child abuse and neglect.

NICWA is a private, non-profit, membership organization based in Portland, Oregon. Our members include tribes, individuals—both Indian and non-Indian—and private organizations from around the United States concerned with American Indian child and family issues. Our board of directors is made up of 26 American Indians, and we have a staff of 24, most of whom are American Indians. Together, our partners, board, and staff work to protect the most vital resource of American Indian people—our children.

History

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) evolved from the Northwest Indian Child Welfare Institute (NWICWI), which began over one decade ago. In 1983, the Northwest Indian Child Welfare Institute was developed in response to the need for trained Indian child welfare workers in both reservation- and urban-based Indian child welfare (ICW) programs. The Institute was sponsored by the Parry Center for Children in Portland, Oregon, in cooperation with Portland State University and was guided by a team of advisors, mostly from Northwest tribes. Indian child welfare training to tribal workers began; in 1985, staff, trainers, and advisors decided that the Institute should continue operation under Native American control.

Early Incarnation
In 1987 members of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) and a regional consortium of Northwest tribes, formed a child welfare committee to help set policy and direction on Indian child and family issues. Recognizing the importance of having an organization serve Northwest tribes'' children and families, the ATNI Child Welfare Committee, institute staff, and tribes created the Northwest Indian Child Welfare Association (NWICWA). The Association assumed control of the Institute''s materials and training projects and commenced operation.

At its first membership meeting, NWICWA was charged with keeping members informed on ICW practice issues, helping tribal communities proactively respond to children''s and families'' needs, advocating for adequate funding for tribal programs, and ensuring proper implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. These directives quickly brought to light the importance of NWICWA as a vital resource for Northwest tribes. The Meyer Memorial Trust was the first foundation to step up with a major grant for capacity building.

Over the next five years, with the generous support of several leading foundations and input from the tribes, NWICWA developed three major areas of activities. These areas were information exchange, community development, and public policy analysis.

Providing Services Nationwide
By 1992, nearly every tribe in the country began seeking NWICWA''s training and resources, since no other organization in the country was serving Indian people in these areas. Although a regionally-focused organization at the time, NWICWA never turned away service, and, at the urging of its membership, NWICWA changed its name to the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA). Many of the Association''s activities had become national in scope and in 1994 the organization, responding to the need nationally, began a transition to being national in scope and in name.

NICWA Today

Today, NICWA is a national voice for American Indian children and families. It is a membership organization whose main constituency is tribal governments, urban Indian social service programs and, in particular, the frontline staff who work with Indian children and families. NICWA has a staff of 24, most of whom are Native American.

Funding Sources
NICWA is a private, non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon. It manages its own fiscal affairs and conducts an audit each year through a certified and independent auditor. NICWA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and receives its funding from many different sources, including memberships, individual and corporate donations, fundraising events, program contracts and fees for service, curriculum sales, and foundation and federal grants. NICWA does not compete with tribes for scarce federal program dollars.

Membership Organization
NICWA is a membership organization with a 26 member all-Indian board of directors. Members include tribes, individuals, both Indian and non-Indian, and private organizations from around the United States concerned with Indian child and family issues.

NICWA is unique. It is the only Native American organization focused specifically on issues of child abuse and neglect and tribal capacity to prevent and respond effectively to these problems. Together, our members, board, and staff work to ensure that the most vital resource of Indian people-our children-are protected.

 
 
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