Dismantling Racial Inequity

2: Community Collaboration & Grassroots Effort (Cross-systems & Tribal Partnerships)

National Webinar:  September 7, 2017 cross-systems
Learning Exchange: September 13, 2017

Due to the disproportionate and disparate number of Native American children in the Woodbury County, Iowa child welfare system, the community came together in 2000 and formed the Community Initiative for Native Children and Families (CINCF) committee with Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS), Native American community representatives, and social service agencies. The CINCF includes representation from the five tribes in the area—Ho-Chunk, Omaha, Ponca, Santee Nation, and Winnebago—and from area service providers, the judiciary, housing, law enforcement, Iowa KidsNet, health, and education. The goal of CINCF is to better understand, articulate, and address issues contributing to the disproportional and disparate number of Native American children and families involved with Department of Human Services of Woodbury County. The group collaboratively works to find resources and support for Native families.

In 2004, the Iowa Legislature also recognized concerns about the overrepresentation of Native American children in the child welfare system and designated Woodbury County as one of two Minority Youth and Family Initiative sites in Iowa. Then IDHS Service Area Manager Pat Penning and local Native representative Frank LaMere began leading the CINCF effort and identified desired outcomes, including reducing termination of parental rights and out-of-home placements and increasing relative placements as well as Native American foster homes. Seventeen years later, CINCF is still an active part of the Native American Woodbury County child welfare system.

The presentation will share how this collaboration was built on a grassroots effort started by the Native American community, gaining the attention of IDHS and building partnerships, and how it continues to be sustained today. Presenters will talk about the ups and downs of the process, the commitment required, the many partners that need to come to the table, and the desired outcomes. 

Every child, youth, and family deserves effective supports and services to meet their cultural needs. Community collaboration and tribal partnerships assist agencies serving children and families in creating a path to improve upon disparate outcomes and identify gaps between intent and outcomes. 

Presenters include:  Pat Penning, Community Stakeholder and Facilitator; Shane Frisch, Supervisor, Iowa Department of Human Services in Sioux City; Frank LaMere, Social and Political Activist.


 Handouts and Resources: