Tribal State Collaboration Group (TSCG) Work Efforts
OCS has taken several measures to improve its relationships with Tribal agencies. OCS has identified open communication and authentic partnerships as essential building blocks to healthy partnerships with Tribal agencies. Some of the areas that collaboration has been effective recently and have helped improve OCS relationships with tribal agencies are outlined in the Alaska’s Child and Family Services Plan 2015-2019
In the past several years, TSCG made significant progress by focusing on maintaining effective partnerships, working together for solutions, and holding each other mutually accountable to improve the child welfare system for Alaska Native children and families. The following list illustrates a few key accomplishments:
- Establishment of Tribal title IV-E pass-through agreements for administration & training. Currently there are 11 such agreements.
- Development of one Title IV-E maintenances agreement with a Tribal consortia allowing 37 Tribes to access federal funding.
- Creation of one statewide ICWA coordinator and five regional ICWA specialist positions.
- With support from Casey Family Programs, TSCG members participated in Undoing Racism and Knowing Who You Are cultural trainings. Discussions during these training sessions focused on critical thinking, a child welfare power analysis, definitions, stereotypes, discrimination, internalized racial oppression, and different forms of racism (cultural, institutional, individual). These trainings helped TSCG members to begin speaking a common language and recognizing the importance of each individual’s cultural and ethnic identity. Knowing Who You Are cultural trainings continue to be provided to new OCS and Tribal staff throughout Alaska, on an ongoing basis.
- Creation of basic ICWA training for all state caseworkers and Tribal workers. The two-day specialized training outlines historical trauma, racism, and the federal ICWA laws. It details the life span of a typical child welfare case from beginning to end, when a child is involved in state custody.
- OCS collaborated with the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and 15 other Alaska title IV-B Tribes, to work on a systems change initiative through the Western and Pacific Implementation Center (WPIC).
- Development of a confidentiality agreement related to information sharing during the initial assessment of the case prior to intervention allowing Tribal partners to begin work on the case prior to custody.
- Development of a pilot program for tribal partnership on the early identification of relatives.
- Inclusion of Tribal partners in the OCS Statewide Policy Group and the Executive Steering Committee (new practice implementation group).
The WPIC work applied indigenous world views to the Child and Family Services Review outcome areas of safety, permanency and well-being to guide the project. One of the main goals was to create culturally appropriate, Tribal in-home service models for which five key Tribal entities in three strategic OCS regions of the state received extensive technical support to develop.
Throughout April and May of 2014, OCS conducted 10 Community Café focus groups in 8 different communities and four statewide teleconferences. OCS was very grateful to have the support of our Tribal partners who helped to co-host the café events in five of the communities. These focus groups were comprised of a cross section of tribal partners, service providers, resource parents, Guardians ad Litem, parents, youth and OCS staff. Additionally, Community Cafés were facilitated with existing stakeholder groups with whom OCS has on-going, collaborative working relationships, and meets regularly throughout the year to partner on practice enhancements. These stakeholder groups included the Tribal-State Collaboration Group & Tribal Caucus.