TITLE

Practice-Informed Approaches to Addressing Substance Abuse and Trauma Exposure in Urban Native Families Involved with Child Welfare

AUTHOR(S)
Lucero, Nancy M.; Bussey, Marian
PUB. DATE
May 2015
SOURCE
Child Welfare;May2015, Vol. 94 Issue 4, p97
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Similar to families from other groups, urban-based American Indian and Alaska Native ("Native") family members involved with the child welfare system due to substance abuse issues are also often challenged by untreated trauma exposure. The link between these conditions and the history of genocidal policies aimed at destroying Native family ties, as well as experiences of ongoing discrimination, bring added dimensions for consideration when providing services to these families. Practice-based evidence indicates that the trauma-informed and culturally responsive model developed by the Denver Indian Family Resource Center (DIFRC) shows promise in reducing out-of-home placements and re-referrals in urban Native families with substance abuse and child welfare concerns, while also increasing caregiver capabilities, family safety, and child well-being. This article provides strategies from the DIFRC approach that non-Native caseworkers and supervisors can utilize to create an environment in their own agencies that supports culturally based practice with Native families while incorporating a trauma-informed understanding of service needs of these families. Casework consistent with this approach demonstrates actions that meet the Active Efforts requirement of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) as well as sound clinical practice. Intensive and proactive case management designed specifically for families with high levels of service needs is a key strategy when combined with utilizing a caseworker brief screening tool for trauma exposure; training caseworkers to recognize trauma symptoms, making timely referrals to trauma treatment by behavioral health specialists experienced in working with Native clients, and providing a consistent service environment that focuses on client safety and worker trustworthiness. Finally, suggestions are put forth for agencies seeking to enhance their cultural responsiveness and include increasing workers' understanding of cultural values, worldview, and historical issues; working from a relational perspective; listening deeply to families' experiences; and being open to incorporating traditional healing and cultural practice into service plans.
ACCESSION #
110870815

 

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